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)
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Education Bachelor of Science, Biology
Alma mater University of South Carolina
Known for 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.[1][2] 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]

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 maintained a high grade point average in high school while also attending church services and working part-time as a clothing store sales clerk.

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.[2] College graduation was also a critical time for her, she said: "I really didn't know where to go next. I had big expectations, and not a lot of guidance." After she graduated from the university, she entered the Miss South Carolina/World beauty pageant and won. She went to New York to compete nationally.[3] While she did not win the beauty pageant, she remained in New York to pursue an acting and modeling career.


Rice moved to Miami, where she worked as a television commercial actress and for a pharmaceutical company, as well as appearing in an episode of the TV series Miami Vice.[3]


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.[4][5][6]

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.[7]

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).[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[5] Most recently, Hughes received the 2013 Women in Technology Leadership Award for "Social Impact."[11]


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.[5] She authored the book, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace and website[12]

Personal life[edit]

Photo of Donna Rice with Gary Hart

Donna Rice is married to Jack Hughes and has two grown step-children, Sean and Mindy, and three grandchildren.[5] Rice has openly said she was a victim of date-rape "on the way to New York 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".[3]

Gary Hart scandal[edit]

In March 1987, she met former Senator Gary Hart at a Miami fundraiser. Rice stated that she was "very interested in getting into fund raising".[13] 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 having an extra-marital affair, leading the candidate to challenge the media to surveil him, and to also claim that anybody who did so would "be very bored."

The day before Hart's quote was to appear in The New York Times Magazine, Rice was stalked on a flight from Miami to Washington, D.C., and two reporters for the Miami Herald observed Rice coming out of Hart's Washington, D.C., townhouse, and their story was published on the same day that his challenge appeared in The New York Times Magazine. While Hart contended that the reporters could have no knowledge of exactly when Rice arrived or why she was there, [14] his 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] Both Rice and Hart have consistently denied that their relationship had been sexual.[13]

As a result of the scandal, Rice resigned from her job as a marketing representative for pharmaceutical giant Wyeth Laboratories in South Florida.[16] 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.[17] A month after the scandal broke, she began reconnecting with her Christian faith and then disappeared from the public eye for seven years.[18]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b c Marcia Segelstein (12 March 2012). "When Enough was Enough: The Story of Donna Rice Hughes". Salvo Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Ryan, Kiki. "Donna Rice Hughes: Internet Maven". Politico Click. Politico. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Donna Rice Hughes, President & CEO, Enough Is Enough". Spokespersons. Enough Is Enough. 
  6. ^ Kathleen Hom (4 July 2010). "Whatever Happened To ... the woman on the senator's lap". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "EIE President Donna Rice Hughes joins the Today Show June 2004". YouTube. June 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Janofsky, Michael (2 December 2002). "What Would Dewey Do? Libraries Grapple With Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Hudson, Jr., David L. "Donna Rice Hughes makes it her mission to fight cyberporn". First Amendment News. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Hampson, Rick; Leinwand, Donna; Brophy Marcus, Mary (4 October 2010). "Suicide shows need for civility, privacy online". USA Today. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "2013 WIT Leadership Awards Winners Announced". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Donna Rice Hughes (August 1998). Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace. Fleming H. Revell. p. 269. ISBN 978-0800756727. 
  13. ^ a b Alan Richman, Donna Rice: 'The Woman in Question, People Magazine (Vol. 27, No. 20, May 18, 1987)
  14. ^ E.J. Dionne Jr. (9 May 1987). "Courting Danger: The Fall of Gary Hart". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  15. ^ Richard Zoglin (18 May 1987). "Stakeouts And Shouted Questions". Time. 
  16. ^ Amy Debra Feldman (September 12, 2000). "Donna Rice Hughes says Enough is Enough". Salon Magazine. 
  17. ^ "Rice Loses Her Job - Correction Appended". The New York Times. 16 December 1987. 
  18. ^ Goff, Keli (9 May 2014). "Donna Rice: 'My Heart Really Goes Out to Monica Lewinsky'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 

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