Mary Bono

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Mary Bono
Mary Bono Mack Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 45th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Dana Rohrabacher
Succeeded by John Campbell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 44th district
In office
April 7, 1998 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Sonny Bono
Succeeded by Ken Calvert
Personal details
Born Mary Whitaker
(1961-10-24) October 24, 1961 (age 53)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sonny Bono (1986–1998)
Glenn Baxley (2001–2005)
Connie Mack (2007–2013)
Stephen Scot Oswald (2015–present)
Children Chesare Elan (with Bono)
Chianna Maria (with Bono)
Alma mater University of Southern California

Mary Bono (née Whitaker and formerly Mary Bono Mack, born October 24, 1961) is a former U.S. Representative for California's 45th congressional district, and previously the 44th, serving from 1998 to 2013. She was first elected to Congress to replace her late husband, Sonny Bono, who had died months before. She is a member of the Republican Party. Bono's district was based in Palm Springs and included most of central and eastern Riverside County. She sat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and was Chairwoman for the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

Bono was defeated in her bid for reelection in 2012 by Dr. Raul Ruiz. She was, at the time, the sole female Republican in California's congressional delegation, and until Congresswoman Mimi Walters was elected in November 2014, no other female Republican was part of the delegation.

On March 19, 2013, Bono announced she was joining Washington, D.C.-based federal affairs firm FaegreBD Consulting as senior vice president.[1] Now a principal, she focuses her government advocacy and consulting practice there on legislative, regulatory and policy matters related to the entertainment, media and information technology sectors. She also is a nationally recognized advocate for drug abuse prevention and treatment.

Bono is married to former astronaut and retired Navy rear admiral Stephen Scot Oswald.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Bono was born Mary Whitaker in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Karen Lee (née Taylor), a chemist, and Dr. Clay Westerfield Whitaker, a physician and World War II veteran. In 1963, in her second year, she moved with her parents to South Pasadena, California.[3]

She graduated from the University of Southern California in 1984[4] with a bachelor of arts in art history. She was an accomplished gymnast in her youth.[5]

In 1986, she married actor/singer Sonny Bono and moved to Palm Springs where the two operated a restaurant they owned.[4] Sonny Bono served as Mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992 before being elected to Congress in 1994.[6] Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998.

Subsequently, she won the Republican nomination for the special election to succeed him. She then won in the special election held on April 7, 1998. She won a full term later that same year, in November 1998. She was re-elected continuously until the Democratic candidate, Dr. Raul Ruiz, a physician, defeated her in the 2012 general election.[7]

As a principal at FaegreBD Consulting, Bono advises clients on telecommunications, energy, health care, land management and water policy sectors, as well as strategic communications. She works with telecommunications companies to "develop thoughtful policies that grow the Internet economy and maximize broadband networks throughout the U.S."[8] In June 2013, a group of leading telecommunications firms announced formation of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, which focuses on updating U.S. privacy and data security laws. Mary Bono and Jon Leibowitz, former Federal Trade Commission chairman, were named co-chairs of the coalition.[9]

In June 2013, Bono helped lead expansion of Faegre Baker Daniels and FaegreBD Consulting into Silicon Valley, in her home state of California. Bono leads FaegreBD Consulting's focus on information technology services in Silicon Valley while operating primarily from the firm's Washington, D.C. office.[10]

Congressional career[edit]

Bono, c. 2005

Mary Bono served in Congress for 15 years, where she worked on legislation and issues related to intellectual property, energy, health, telecommunications, privacy and more. Her legislative work includes a bill that calls for country-of-origin labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as several energy-saving bills to reward companies for utilizing clean burning fuel technologies and increase the energy-efficiency of federal buildings. In 2000, Bono helped pass legislation that established the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in the Palm Springs region. The House of Representatives passed her Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass (SPY ACT), which would protect an individual's personal information on the Web. Also, Bono has sponsored legislation that provides funding for obesity studies and improved nutrition programs nationwide, autism research, and Federal funding under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Act.[11] In 2011 her bill, H.R. 2715, was signed into law with bipartisan support to amend and improve the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.[12] The daughter of a veteran, Bono also played a key role in creation of much-needed VA clinics in Blythe and Palm Desert, California.[13]

Bono followed the Republican Party line 89% of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly. In 2004, she received an 84% approval rating from the Christian Coalition of America, but this fell to 33% in 2008.[14] In 1999, she voted in favor of the Largent Amendment,[15] to ban adoption by same-sex couples in Washington, D.C.[16] Bono has, however, voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment twice. In December 2010, she was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly homosexual service members.[17][18] In 2013, after losing reelection, Bono was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[19]

In 1998, Bono was added to the House Judiciary Committee by the Republican leadership in anticipation of the consideration of impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, thus becoming the only Republican woman on the committee.[20] Bono voted along party lines on all four motions for impeachment in both the committee and on the House floor,[21][22] despite other moderate Republican House members voting against Articles II, III, and IV.[22]

She has received numerous awards from such organizations as Americans for Tax Reform, National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the SunLine Transit Agency for her support of alternative fuel technologies.[11] She signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[23]

Committee assignments[edit]

Bono was chairwoman of the House Energy Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. This committee debates legislation related to intellectual property, telecommunications, energy and healthcare. She was the first Republican woman to chair this subcommittee. She was co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.[24] In 2012, she formed and chaired the House Women's Policy Committee, which included 24 female Republican lawmakers from 17 states.[25]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Advocacy and causes[edit]

Bono is a leading advocate for drug abuse prevention and treatment. At the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) 15th Annual Drug-Free Kids Dinner, Tom Reddin, vice-chair of the 2013 Drug-Free Kids Campaign, introduced her:

We all know and respect Mary Bono for her commitment to drug abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. Specifically, Mary drew national attention to prescription drug abuse and made it a major focus before it was ever named an epidemic. She served as co-chairman of a congressional caucus on prescription drug abuse and the Youth Drug Prevention Caucus. Now Mary represents a wide array of interests as senior vice president for FaegreBD Consulting, but, she's also staying very active on the drug issue as a board member of CADCA.[26]

In addition to serving on CADCA's board, Bono is the honorary chairman of Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse[27] and the honorary chair of Rally2Recovery.[28] She has spoken and presented awards at numerous events in support of prevention and recovery, including the Association of Recovery Schools Conference, America Honors Recovery, Recovery for Life Gala and the Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner.[29]

Bono serves on the Tribute Committee of the Navy SEAL Foundation, which focuses on honoring SEALs and supporting their families.[30]

Media coverage[edit]

In August 2013, Bono was a panelist at the National Journal's Women 2020 event and discussed her experiences as a woman in Congress and work that still needs to be done regarding gender equality.[31]

She has been the subject of numerous profiles for a wide array of publications and television shows, including People, Capital Style, Elle, Entertainment Tonight, Esquire, George, Good Housekeeping, Hello!, Ladies' Home Journal, and PBS. Bono's national profile increased significantly in 1998 when she sat on the House Judiciary panel to consider impeachment articles against Bill Clinton.[32]

She was named one of the "Most Fascinating Women of 1998" by Ladies' Home Journal magazine in conjunction with CBS Television. She was also selected by the former George magazine as one of the 20 most fascinating women in politics. In 2008, she was named the "Seventh Hottest Politician in the World" by Maxim.

Personal life[edit]

In 1986, she married actor/singer Sonny Bono and moved to Palm Springs where the two operated a restaurant they owned. Sonny Bono served as Mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992 before being elected to Congress in 1994. During her marriage to Sonny Bono, Mary took courses in Scientology but never took to the religion. Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998. She then began dating Brian Prout, drummer of the country music band Diamond Rio.[33] The two became engaged in 2001 but did not marry.[34][35]

In 2001, she married Wyoming businessman Glenn Baxley about 18 months after they met in Mexico. They filed for divorce in 2005.[36] On December 15, 2007, Bono married Congressman Connie Mack IV (R-FL) in Asheville, North Carolina.[37] In May 2013, the couple announced they had separated on amicable terms and later divorced that month.[38]

In September 2015, Bono married former astronaut and retired Navy rear admiral Stephen Scot Oswald.[39]

Mary Bono has a son, Chesare Elan Bono (born 1988), and a daughter, Chianna Maria Bono (born 1991), from her marriage to Sonny Bono. In addition to her family, Bono has interests in music and outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. In the April 2008 edition of Golf for Women magazine, she was listed as "one of the 50 most powerful women who play" golf.[40]

After attending a lecture by mountaineer-turned-humanitarian Greg Mortenson, Bono worked with him to aid his efforts to build schools for girls in the mountainous regions of Pakistan. Bono is quoted in Mortenson's book Three Cups of Tea as saying "I've learned more from Greg Mortenson about the causes of terrorism than during all our briefings on Capitol Hill."[41]


  1. ^ "Former Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack Joins FaegreBD Consulting". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ About Mary, memoir written by Mary Bono.
  4. ^ a b "Mary Bono Mack (R)". Wall Street Journal. November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  5. ^ Natividad, Ivan (May 8, 2012). "Take Five With Rep. Mary Bono Mack". Roll Call. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  6. ^ Bardach, Ann (August 1999). "Proud Mary Bono". George Magazine. 
  7. ^ Lochhead, Carolyn (November 7, 2012), "Mary Bono Mack defeated in Palm Springs upset", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2012-11-07 
  8. ^ >Press release – Former Congresswoman Mary Bono Joins FaegreBD Consulting (March 19, 2013)
  9. ^ Tau, Byron, and Palmer, Anna. "Exclusive – Communications industry forms privacy coalition." Politico, June 26, 2013.
  10. ^ Press Release – Faegre Baker Daniels Expands Operations to Silicon Valley (June 6, 2013)
  11. ^ a b Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack: Biography
  12. ^ Duvall, Mark. "Congress Fixes Problems in Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.", August 15, 2011.
  13. ^ "At last, a veterans' clinic is coming to Blythe." Palo Verde Valley Times, 2001.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Human Rights Campaign". 1999-07-29. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  17. ^ Chris Geidner, House Passes DADT Repeal Bill, Metro Weekly (December 15, 2010).
  18. ^ House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', The New York Times (December 15, 2010).
  19. ^ Avlon, John (February 28, 2013). "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay-Marriage Brief". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  20. ^ Branson, Amy; Martinez, Gebe (August 21, 1998). "The Next Grand Jury". Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Articles of Impeachment and Judiciary Committee Roll Call Votes". Washington Post. December 19, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "The Impeachment Vote". Washington Post. December 19, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers". Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  24. ^ Mary B. Mack, "Proudly Serving California's 45th District". U.S. House of Representatives, June 20, 2012.
  25. ^ Felci, Erica. "Bono Mack Forms Committee for GOP Women." Palm Springs Desert Sun, May 21, 2012.
  26. ^ CADCA's 15th Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner Video
  27. ^ Bono, Mary. "Commentary: Steps to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic." The Partnership at, July 17, 2012.
  28. ^ "Welcome » Rally2RecoveryRally2Recovery". Rally2Recovery. 
  29. ^ "The Honorable Mary Bono." FaegreBD Consulting website, accessed October 21, 2013.
  30. ^ "Navy SEAL Foundation – Tribute Committee.", accessed October 21, 2013
  31. ^ "Women in Politics: How They are Challenging Status Quo" panel video., July 18, 2013
  32. ^ Grove, Lloyd. Vote Tops Bono's Year of Decisions. The Washington Post. 1998-12-11. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
  33. ^ Van Wyk, Anika (13 July 1999). "Diamond Rio keeps mind on music". Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  34. ^ Ann Bardach (August 1999). "Proud Mary Bono". George Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  35. ^ Diamond Rio; Tom Roland (2009). Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio. Thomas Nelson Publishers. pp. 194–197. ISBN 978-1595552686. 
  36. ^ The Associated Press (2007-12-17). "Reps. Mary Bono, Connie Mack marry.". Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  37. ^ "Fox News, GOP House Members Mary Bono and Connie Mack Marry in North Carolina". 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  38. ^ "Connie, Mary Bono Mack divorcing". 2013-05-24. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ Golf for Women, April 2008
  41. ^ Mortenson, Greg (2007). Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0143038257. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sonny Bono
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 44th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ken Calvert
Preceded by
Dana Rohrabacher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 45th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Campbell