Almost every day someone in the media tries to make a connection
between Donna Rice and Monica Lewinsky. While the two high-profile
political sex scandals have much in common, particularly for the two men
involved, that’s about as far as it goes.
Donna Rice always will be remembered as the woman who ended Senator
Gary Hart’s presidential bid. However, while his story is one of what
might have been, her story is one of triumph over tragedy. It’s a story
that needs to be told for it should serve as a model for anyone who
stumbles and truly desires to turn his or her life around.
In the spring of 1987, when Hart was accused of “womanizing” by some
members of the media, he challenged reporters to find him with any woman
who wasn’t his wife. After the Miami Herald received an anonymous tip
that Hart was seeing someone, the paper staked out his Washington
residence and discovered Donna coming out of his townhouse on the
morning of May 2, 1987. It wasn’t long before pictures of Hart with this
young girl sitting on his lap aboard the yacht, Monkey Business, were
splashed across the front pages of newspapers coast-to-coast. Overnight,
D-o-n-n-a-R-i-c-e had become a nine letter word for bimbo.
After posing for an ad for “No Excuses” jeans, it soon was discovered
that Donna was not only blond and beautiful, but bright. However, she
dropped out of sight. This was not an easy thing to do with the crush of
media attention. Offers were pouring in for everything from
kiss-and-tell books to a job with the CBS television network.
However, Donna had several advantages that Monica Lewinsky didn’t.
Her parents weren’t rich and famous, but they had other things that were
much more important: a commitment to each other and faith in God. Donna
was raised in the church. She gave her heart to Christ in the ninth
grade and in high school her life revolved around singing in the choir
and involvement with her youth group.
Donna was a Phi Beta Kappa and head cheerleader at the University of
South Carolina, but after college she took a series of wrong turns. She
gradually stopped going to church and reading her Bible. She began
dating non-Christians who led her further and further astray. Working
for a pharmaceutical company in Miami and juggling a commercial acting
career, she was a workaholic when she met Senator Hart at a fund-raiser.
She was flattered when he asked her out and had no idea he was married
until she had been swept her off her feet. Hart pursued Donna but made
it clear that he could not leave his wife and be elected president.
One night as Donna was channel surfing, she began watching the movie
Jesus of Nazareth. This brought her up short. That trip to Washington
was the opportunity she wanted to end this relationship face-to-face.
That one event affected her life every bit as much as his, but she is
stronger for it.
Donna turned down all those lucrative offers that came her way after
that unfortunate event in order to study the Bible and get right with
God. In 1993, she married Jack Hughes and began working with Enough is
Enough. Now an internationally known advocate and spokesperson for
protecting children against pornography on the Internet, she is the
author of a new book called Kids Online.
Donna is not proud of her brief relationship with Gary Hart, but she
doesn’t run from her past. She is a living, breathing example of how God
— if we allow Him — can use all things for good. No, Monica Lewinsky
is no Donna Rice Hughes, but with God’s help she could be.