Donna Rice Hughes (born January 7, 1958) is president and CEO of Enough Is Enough (EIE), an internationally known Internet safety expert, author, speaker and film producer. 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. 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.
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.
Donna Rice is married to Jack Hughes and has two grown step-children, Sean and Mindy, and three grandchildren. 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".
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. 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 as well as an episode of the soap opera One Life to Live, and played a secretary in the movie The Last Plane Out.
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.
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.
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). 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. 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. Most recently, Hughes received the 2013 Women in Technology Leadership Award for "Social Impact."
In the fall of 2014, "National Porn Free Wi-Fi" campaign" with nearly 50,000 petitions and 75 partner organizations encouraging McDonald's and Starbucks to lead Corporate America in filtering pornography and child pornography on public Wi-Fi.
In 2016, McDonald’s implemented their filtered Wi-Fi policy in the majority of their 14,000 stores. Starbucks followed suit nationally and to implement a global policy as well.
The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge the pledge states that if elected President of the United State of America, I promise to:
- Uphold the rule of law by aggressively enforce existing federal laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online, including the federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws by:
- appointing an Attorney General who will make the prosecution of such laws a top priority in my administration and,
- Providing the intelligence community and law enforcement with the resources and tools needed to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.
- Aggressively enforce the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring schools and public libraries using government eRate monies to filter child pornography and pornography by requiring effective oversight by the Federal Communications Commission;
- Protect and defend the innocence of America’s children by advancing public policies that prevent the sexual exploitation of children in a manner that is consistent with the government’s compelling interest in protecting its most vulnerable citizens, within the limits set forth by the First Amendment.
- Give serious consideration to appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age.
- Establish public-private partnerships with Corporate America to step up voluntary efforts to reduce the threat of the Internet-enabled sexual exploitation of children by the implementation of updated corporate policies and viable technology tools and solutions.
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. She authored the book Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace and website ProtectKids.com.
In 2016, she stated her case for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a Conservative Christian woman.
She called Disney's attention to Disney Porn Land which is a clear violation of Disney's copyrighted brand and its signature cartoon characters — portrays beloved Disney characters performing graphic sexual acts with one another.
Rice 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. Rice later met Hart in Miami, and stated that she was "very interested in getting into fund raising". 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." However, he never intended to invite reporters to be "skulking around in the shadows" of his home.
Reporters for the Miami Herald, in a controversial move, stalked Rice on a flight from Miami to Washington, D.C., and then staked-out Hart's townhouse following a phone call from someone trying to sell pictures from the trip. There, the Herald 's Jim McGee saw Hart and Donna Rice return to Hart's townhouse. The Herald then reported that Rice had spent the night at Hart's residence, but later conceded that they had not watched the back door to know when she had left.
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. While Hart contended that the reporters could have no knowledge of exactly when Rice arrived or why she was there, Rice declared the association had been innocent, and denied that she had slept at Hart's house, or that the relationship was sexual. Hart also denied the accuracy of the story.
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. 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, and his wife and daughter became similar subjects of interest for tabloid newspapers.
On the cover of its June 2, 1987 edition, the celebrity tabloid National Enquirer published a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap. The pair were pictured on a dock, holding hands, during a yacht trip to Bimini that Hart, Rice and others took before he announced his campaign for President of the United States. Hart is wearing a t-shirt bearing the words Monkey Business, the name of the yacht. The photo was published alongside the headline "Gary Hart Asked Me to Marry Him". It was published weeks after Hart suspended his campaign, but has been subsequently collectively confused as the reason for Hart's exit.
Both Rice and Hart have consistently denied that their relationship had been sexual, and have stated that they were just friends.
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. "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." A month after the scandal broke, she began reconnecting with her Christian faith and then disappeared from the public eye for seven years. 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 businessman in May, 1994.