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Donna Rice Hughes

Donna Rice Hughes

Donna Rice Hughes (born January 7, 1958) is president and CEO of Enough Is Enough, an author, speaker and film producer. In her work with Enough is Enough, Hughes has appeared on a variety of outlets as an Internet safety advocate.[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.

ResidenceVienna, Virginia, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of South Carolina(BSc)
EmployerEnough Is Enough

Personal life

Rice grew up in the Irmo area near Columbia, South Carolina.

Rice attended the University of South Carolina, where she was a cheerleader and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in biology. [2]

Donna Rice is married to Jack Hughes and has two grown step-children, Sean and Mindy, and three grandchildren.[3] 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".[4]


After she graduated from college, she entered the Miss South Carolina World beauty pageant and won.[5] She went to New York to compete nationally.[4] 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[4][6] as well as an episode of the soap opera One Life to Live, and played a secretary in the movie The Last Plane Out.[5]


Since 1994, when she became communications director and spokesperson for Enough Is Enough, 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. Hughes became president and CEO of the organization in 2002. 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.[3][7][8]

Hughes has appeared on The Today Show and other national broadcasts including the Oprah Winfrey Show,[9] CNN,[10] Dateline NBC,[11] and has been interviewed by Barbara Walters on numerous occasions.[12]

Hughes has testified before multiple congressional hearings on protecting children online.

Hughes and Enough Is Enough supported the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA).[13][14] 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.[15] 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.[3] Most recently, Hughes received the 2013 Women in Technology Leadership Award for "Social Impact."[16]

In the fall of 2014, the group's "National Porn Free Wi-Fi" campaign" encouraged McDonald's and Starbucks to add filters to block pornography on their Wi-Fi networks. In 2016, McDonald's implemented their filtered Wi-Fi policy in the majority of their 14,000 stores.[17] Starbucks followed suit nationally and announced they would implement a global policy as well.[18] That same year, she won the 2014 Professional Women in Advocacy Excellence In Advocacy Award for “Veteran Practitioner.” [19]

Enough Is Enough sponsored a "Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge" in 2016, asking presidential candidates to pledge to combat both Internet pornography—including both illegal child pornography and legal adult pornography—if elected president.[20][21] The Pledge states that if elected President of the United States of America, [the pledging person] promises to "uphold the rule of law by aggressively enforcing 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." Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump signed the pledge, and Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent a letter of support.[22][23]

During a period of national political divide following the presidential election, Hughes launched Enough Is Enough's "High Road Campaign" confronting the global epidemic of hate and cyberbullying by promoting civility, common decency and kindness.

The campaign's efforts included Hughes' hour-long C-SPAN interview[24] and her op-ed on CNN.com titled "Cruel attacks on Melania Trump obscure her positive role"[25] in support of Melania Trump's cyberbullying platform which had one million readers and 850 comments in the first 24 hours.

Hughes has publicly spoken against articles appearing in Teen Vogue magazine for promoting sexual activity of any kind to teens,[26][27] sparking an online petition her organization initiated called “Say No To Teen Vogue” after it published Anal Sex: What You Need to Know/How to Do it the Right Way.[28] The petition has generated more than 29,000 signatures calling to "boycott Teen Vogue until this article is retracted and these types of articles cease to be published."

In October 2017, Hughes participated as one of 120 world leaders in the area of Internet safety in Rome, Italy for the "Child Dignity In the Digital World" World Congress to set the global agenda in the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation in the digital age.[29][30][31] The Congress concluded with a papal audience at the Vatican in which Pope Francis applauded the Congress in his address for concentrating with great foresight "on what is probably the most crucial challenge for the future of the human family-the protection of young people's dignity, their healthy development, their joy and their hope."[32]

In November 2017, Hughes joined Candy Carson and others at the invitation of Homemakers for America for the grand opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. to ring the replica of the Liberty Bell, launching a nationwide ringing of bells by churches to calling Americans to come together to “Let Freedom Ring!”[33]

In March of 2018, Hughes joined others from the Moms March Movement to speak at a press conference organized by the HomeMakers for America, in Washington D.C. to share the Declaration of Mothers reclaiming culture for truth, family, and freedom.[34] The event also proclaimed March 8th as International Mother’s Influence Day[35] and launched “A Day With a Mother.”

Under her leadership at Enough Is Enough, Hughes rolled out a Random Posts of Kindness campaign designed to generate a culture of dignity and respect in order to create a safer, more civil Internet.

The campaign includes a special initiative, Sweet Tweets.[36]


She co-wrote the story for the May 2000 season finale episode of Touched by an Angel that dealt with online safety.[3] She authored the book Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace and website ProtectKids.com.[37] As a platform issue of Enough Is Enough,[38] she has written and spoken regularly on the harms of online bullying, the relational brokenness of young people,[39] and the need for a safer, kinder and ethical community on and offline.[38][41] When 50 Shades of Grey was released, she called out Hollywood for pushing a cheap counterfeit of genuine erotic love, saying the film glamorizes sexual exploitation, bondage and sadomasochism.[42]

Hughes was an outspoken supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.[43] She has also written numerous commentaries that have been published in the L.A. Times, USA Today, Politico, CNN, FOX News and other media outlets.

Hughes has called upon The Walt Disney Company to crack down on unauthorized "Disney porn" on the Internet.[44]

Professional speaking

She has spoken on the subject of Internet dangers, safety, and cybersecurity in educational and professional forums including: keynotes at the White House, University of Houston Law School, MIT, Johns Hopkins University, the Media Institute, the Freedom Forum, and the National Press Club.[45] She also conducted a seminar at the request of AG John Ashcroft, at the Department of Justice's Federal Prosecutors' Obscenity Symposium.[46] Hughes told a group of women attending the "Mom's March across America [71] " event in September 2017 that "A culture of human dignity and mutual respect has made this nation strong even in the most turbulent of times in our history."[47]

Involvement in political scandal

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.[5] Rice later met Hart in Miami, and stated that she was "very interested in getting into fund raising".[5] Soon after meeting Rice, Hart announced that he would run for the 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 his 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."[48] However, he never intended to invite reporters to be "skulking around in the shadows" of his home.[48]

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.[49]*What%20It%20Takes%3A%20The%20Wa]]*here, the Herald 's Jim McGee saw Hart and Rice return to Hart's townhouse.[51] hed the back door to know when she had left.[49]

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.[49] While Hart contended that the reporters could have no knowledge of exactly when Rice arrived or why she was there,[53] Rice declared the association had been innocent, and denied that she had slept at Hart's house, or that the relationship was sexual.[49]*What%20It%20Takes%3A%20The%20Wa]]*Hart also denied the accuracy of the story.[51]

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.[55] 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,[56] and his wife and daughter became similar subjects of interest for tabloid newspapers.[57]

Monkey Business photo

On the cover of its June 2, 1987 edition,[58] the celebrity tabloid National Enquirer published a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap. The pair were pictured on a dock during a yacht trip to Bimini that Hart, Rice and others took before he announced his campaign for President of the United States.[49]*What%20It%20Takes%3A%20The%20Wa]]art is wearing a T-shirt bearing the words Monkey Business o was published alongside the headline "Gary Hart Asked Me to Marry Him".[58] It was published weeks after Hart suspended his campaign, but has been subsequently collectively confused as the reason for Hart's exit.[57][60] There are allegations that the photo was a set up by Republican operative Lee Atwater to discredit Hart.[61] Sara Paxton played Rice in the 2018 film The Front Runner

Both Rice and Hart have consistently denied that their relationship was sexual and have stated they were just friends.[5]


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.[62] She said, "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."[63] A month after the scandal broke, she began reconnecting with her Christian faith and then disappeared from the public eye for seven years.[64] Rice lived in Los Angeles briefly, then moved to the Washington, D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia in the early 1990s. There Rice married Jack Hughes, a businessman, in May 1994.[64][65]


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