Donna Rice Hughes

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This article is about Donna Rice Hughes. For other people with the name Donna Hughes, see Donna Hughes (disambiguation).
Donna Rice Hughes
Born Donna Rice
(1958-01-07) January 7, 1958 (age 57)
New Orleans, Louisiana[1]
Residence Vienna, Virginia
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Education Bachelor of Science, Biology
Alma mater University of South Carolina (1980)
Known for Political Scandal
Internet safety expert and advocate; President and CEO, Enough Is Enough (EIE)
Spouse(s) Jack Hughes

Donna Rice Hughes (born January 7, 1958) is president and CEO of Enough Is Enough (EIE). In her work with Enough is Enough, Hughes has appeared on a variety of outlets as an Internet safety expert and advocate for children and families.[2][3] She first became known as a key figure in a widely publicized 1987 political scandal that contributed to end the second campaign of former Senator Gary Hart for the Democratic Party nomination for President.

Early life[edit]

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, she is the daughter of a highway engineer and a secretary, Donna Rice spent her childhood in Florida, Georgia (in Atlanta), and South Carolina. She began a modeling and acting career at age 13 and did her first television commercial in ninth grade for Pizza Hut.[1] She maintained a high grade point average in high school while also attending church services and working part-time as a clothing store sales clerk. She graduated from Irmo High School, South Carolina in 1976.[1]

Rice graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of South Carolina in 1980 as a biology major, where she was both an honors student and cheerleader.[3]


After she graduated from the university, she entered the Miss South Carolina World beauty pageant and won. [4] She went to New York to compete nationally.[5] Returning to South Carolina after the pageant, she decided to move to New York City to pursue an acting and modeling career.[1] Rice later moved to Miami, where she worked as a marketing representative for pharmaceutical giant Wyeth Laboratories in South Florida. She also worked as a television commercial actress and appeared in a 1986 episode of the TV series Miami Vice, [5][6] appeared in an episode of the soap opera One Life To Live and played a secretary in a movie named "The Last Plane Out". [4]

Gary Hart scandal[edit]

She met former Senator Gary Hart at a 1986-87 New Year's Eve Party at the Aspen, Colorado home of her then boyfriend, rocker Don Henley. [4] Rice later met Hart in Miami, and stated that she was "very interested in getting into fund raising".[4] Soon after meeting Rice, Hart announced that he would run for nomination as the Democratic candidate for president. Having enjoyed a surprisingly strong campaign in 1984 against the eventual nominee, former Vice President Walter Mondale, he was widely perceived as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 1988. Shortly thereafter rumors began circulating about him being a "womanizer", leading the candidate to invite the media to observe his public behavior, and to also claim that anybody who did so would "be very bored." [7] However, he never intended to invite reporters to be "skulking around in the shadows" of his home. [8]

Reporters for the Miami Herald, in a controversial move, stalked Rice on a flight from Miami to Washington, D.C., and the staked-out Hart's townhouse following a phone call from someone trying to sell pictures from the trip. [9] There, the Herald's Jim McGee saw Hart and Donna Rice return to Hart's townhouse.[10] The Herald then reported that Rice had spent the night at Hart's residence,[11] but later conceded that they had not watched the back door to have known when she left.[10]

Their story was published on the same day that his quotation appeared in The New York Times Magazine. The ensuing report sent the media into frenzy.[12] While Hart contended that the reporters could have no knowledge of exactly when Rice arrived or why she was there.[13] Rice declared the association had been innocent, and denied that she had slept at Hart's house, or that the relationship was sexual.[10] Hart also denied the accuracy of the story.[11][14]

Hart's popular appeal nevertheless suffered, and polls taken almost immediately afterward found him to be 10 points behind Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis in New Hampshire.[15] On May 8, 1987, a week after the story broke, Hart suspended his campaign after the Washington Post threatened to run a story about a woman Hart had dated while separated from his wife, [16] and his wife and daughter became similar subjects of interest for tabloid newspapers. [17] Weeks after Hart had suspended his campaign, the tabloid National Enquirer published a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap on a dock, which has been subsequently collectively confused as the reason for Hart's exit. [18] [19]

On the cover of its June 2, 1987 edition,[20] the celebrity tabloid National Enquirer published a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap on a dock and holding hands during a trip that Hart, Rice and others took on a yacht named "Monkey Business" to Bimini prior to announcing his campaign for President of the United States.[21] The photo was published alongside the headline "Gary Hart Asked Me to Marry Him".[20]

Both Rice and Hart have consistently denied that their relationship had been sexual, and have stated that they were just friends.[4]

Aftermath of the scandal[edit]

The enormous publicity generated by the Hart scandal resulted in numerous lucrative offers, and while Rice refused most – including one for an interview with Playboy magazine, an ABC movie of the week, book and magazine offers – she did appear in 1987 as the No Excuses jeans girl in commercials and advertisements for No Excuses jeans.[22] According to Rice: "I also had to work through the violation of my date rape, my unhealthy relationships with men, my anger toward the people involved in the scandal, and those who exploited me afterwards."[1] "A month after the scandal broke, I tried to go back to work at the pharmaceutical company after a leave of absence. But because of all the publicity and resulting pressure and stress, I finally resigned."[1][23] A month after the scandal broke, she began reconnecting with her Christian faith and then disappeared from the public eye for seven years.[24] Rice lived in Los Angeles briefly, then moved to Washington, D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia in the early 1990s. There Rice married Jack Hughes, a buinessman in May, 1994.[25][26]


Since 1994, when she became communications director and spokesperson for Enough Is Enough (EIE), an American secular nonpartisan non-profit organization whose mission is to make the Internet safer for families and children. Hughes has been an advocate and speaker on the issue of protecting children online. In 2002, Hughes began her tenure as President and CEO championing the organization's mission to make the Internet safer for children and families. The organization has produced an Internet Safety 101SM program with the Department of Justice and other partners. She is the executive producer, host and instructor of the Internet Safety 101 DVD series, which ran as a TV series on PBS, garnering Hughes an Emmy nomination in 2012 and the series an Emmy Award in 2013.[27][28][29]

Hughes has appeared as an Internet safety expert on numerous national broadcasts including Dateline, The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and 20/20.[30]

Hughes has testified before multiple congressional hearings on protecting children online. With Hughes playing a key role, Enough Is Enough supported Congress’ first attempt at extending to the Internet the same legal protections safeguarding minor children from pornography and sexual predators in the physical realm, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, and others such as the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA).[31][32] She was appointed by Senator Trent Lott to serve on the COPA Commission and served as co-chair of the COPA Hearings on filtering/ratings/labeling technologies. She also serves on various Internet safety advisory boards and task forces including the 2006 Virginia Attorney General’s Youth Internet Safety Task Force and the 2008 Internet Safety Technical Task Force, formed with MySpace and the U.S. Attorneys General. Beyond addressing the dangers of Internet pornography, Hughes has also spoken into the issue of privacy online, teen suicide and the impact of cyberbullying.[33] She has received numerous awards including the National Law Center for Children and Families Annual Appreciation Award, and the "Protector of Children Award" and Media Impact Award from the National Abstinence Clearinghouse.[28] Most recently, Hughes received the 2013 Women in Technology Leadership Award for "Social Impact."[34]


She co-wrote the story for the May 2000 season finale episode of Touched by an Angel that brought the message of Internet dangers and online safety to prime time television and won the Nielsen ratings for its time slot during the May sweeps period.[28] She authored the book, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace and website[35]

Personal life[edit]

Donna Rice is married to Jack Hughes and has two grown step-children, Sean and Mindy, and three grandchildren.[28] Rice has openly said she was a victim of date-rape "on the way to New York City by an older man who was involved with the pageant system, and lost my virginity at that time". She says the rape was "the turning point in my life, the catalyst that propelled me further into an unhealthy lifestyle".[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Facts about Donna Rice
  2. ^ Edmund L. Andrews (27 November 1995). "Once Touched by Notoriety, Donna Rice Is Now in Limelight FightingSmut". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Jon Swartz (9 November 1998). "Donna Rice Says No Excuses for Net Porn / Gary Hart's ex-paramour has reinvented herself". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Alan Richman, Donna Rice: 'The Woman in Question, People Magazine (Vol. 27, No. 20, May 18, 1987)
  5. ^ a b c Marcia Segelstein (12 March 2012). "When Enough was Enough: The Story of Donna Rice Hughes". Salvo Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Donna Rice entry at IMDB
  7. ^ Maureen Dowd, "Liberties; Change of Hart", New York Times, March 22, 1998
  8. ^ Maureen Dowd, "Liberties; Change of Hart", New York Times, March 22, 1998
  9. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes: The Way to the White House. New York: Random House. pp. 432–433. ISBN 0-394-56260-7. 
  10. ^ a b c Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes. New York: Random House. p. 452. ISBN 0-394-56260-7. 
  11. ^ a b James R. Dickenson, and Paul Taylor (May 4, 1987). "Newspaper Stakeout Infuriates Hart". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes. New York: Random House. p. 455. ISBN 0-394-56260-7. 
  13. ^ E.J. Dionne Jr. (9 May 1987). "Courting Danger: The Fall of Gary Hart". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes. New York: Random House. p. 458. ISBN 0-394-56260-7. 
  15. ^ Richard Zoglin (18 May 1987). "Stakeouts And Shouted Questions". Time. 
  16. ^ David Johnston for the New York Times. 7 June 1987 Hart's Link to 2d Woman was Found by a Private Detective
  17. ^ Matt Bai. All The Truth Is Out: The Week That Politics Went Tabloid. Knopf (September 30, 2014) ISBN 978-0307273383
  18. ^ Matt Bai, 'All The Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid' Knopf (2014)
  19. ^ Bai, Matt (September 18, 2014). "How Gary Hart’s Downfall Forever Changed American Politics". The New York Times Magazine. 
  20. ^ a b Hart Photo Said to Cost $25,000, The Los Angeles Times, 1 June 1987
  21. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes. New York: Random House. pp. 436–437. ISBN 0-394-56260-7.
  22. ^ "Rice Loses Her Job - Correction Appended". The New York Times. 16 December 1987. 
  23. ^ Amy Debra Feldman (September 12, 2000). "Donna Rice Hughes says Enough is Enough". Salon Magazine. 
  24. ^ Goff, Keli (9 May 2014). "Donna Rice: 'My Heart Really Goes Out to Monica Lewinsky'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  25. ^ Whatever Happened To ... the woman on the senator's lap, The Washington Post, July 4 2010
  26. ^ Donna Rice: ‘My Heart Really Goes Out to Monica Lewinsky’, The Daily Beast, May 9, 2014
  27. ^ Ryan, Kiki. "Donna Rice Hughes: Internet Maven". Politico Click. Politico. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  28. ^ a b c d "Donna Rice Hughes, President & CEO, Enough Is Enough". Spokespersons. Enough Is Enough. 
  29. ^ Kathleen Hom (4 July 2010). "Whatever Happened To ... the woman on the senator's lap". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  30. ^ "EIE President Donna Rice Hughes joins the Today Show June 2004". YouTube. June 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  31. ^ Janofsky, Michael (2 December 2002). "What Would Dewey Do? Libraries Grapple With Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  32. ^ Hudson, Jr., David L. "Donna Rice Hughes makes it her mission to fight cyberporn". First Amendment News. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  33. ^ Hampson, Rick; Leinwand, Donna; Brophy Marcus, Mary (4 October 2010). "Suicide shows need for civility, privacy online". USA Today. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  34. ^ "2013 WIT Leadership Awards Winners Announced". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  35. ^ Donna Rice Hughes (August 1998). Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace. Fleming H. Revell. p. 269. ISBN 978-0800756727. 

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