Mary Bono

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Mary Bono
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
April 7, 1998 – January 3, 2013
Preceded bySonny Bono
Succeeded byRaul Ruiz
Constituency44th district (1998–2003)
45th district (2003–2013)
Personal details
Mary Whitaker

(1961-10-24) October 24, 1961 (age 62)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
(m. 1986; died 1998)
Glenn Baxley
(m. 2001; div. 2005)
(m. 2007; div. 2013)
(m. 2015)
EducationUniversity of Southern California (BA)

Mary Bono (née Whitaker and formerly Mary Bono Mack, born October 24, 1961) is an American politician, businesswoman, and lobbyist who served Palm Springs and most of central and eastern Riverside County, California, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1998 to 2013.

A member of the Republican Party, Bono was first elected to Congress in 1998 to replace her late husband, Sonny Bono, who had died in office months earlier. She sat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and was chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. In 1998, Bono served on the House Judiciary Committee that approved articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton. Bono served in Congress until losing her 2012 reelection bid.

In March 2013, Bono became a senior vice president at the Washington, D.C.-based federal affairs firm Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting. In 2018, she founded the political affairs consulting firm Integritas by Bono.

Early life and education[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, the family moved to South Pasadena, California.[1] She graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1979,[2] then from the University of Southern California in 1984[3] with a Bachelor of Arts in art history. Whitaker was an accomplished gymnast in her youth[4] and worked as a cocktail waitress during her early twenties.[5]

In 1986, Whitaker married singer, actor and politician Sonny Bono. They moved to Palm Springs, California[3] where Sonny Bono served as mayor from 1988 to 1992 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.[6] The congressman died in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998,[7] during his second term in Congress, leaving a vacant seat in the House, which Mary Bono would then pursue.


U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Mary Bono with Henry Hyde during a press conference related to the impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton

In 1998, Mary Bono won the Republican nomination for the special election to succeed her late husband in what was then California's 44th congressional district. She was then elected to Congress on April 7, 1998.[8] Bono won election to a full term on November 3, 1998.[9]

That same year, 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 during the impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton.[10][5] Bono voted along party lines on all four motions for impeachment in both the committee and on the House floor,[11][12] despite other moderate Republican House members voting against Articles II, III, and IV.[12] Bono's service on the House Judiciary panel increased her national profile considerably.[5]

Bono served in Congress for 15 years.[13] 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.[14] The daughter of a veteran, Bono also played a key role in creation of VA clinics in Blythe and Palm Desert, California.[15] 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.[16][17]

Official portrait

After the 2010 United States census, Bono's district was renumbered as the 36th district and made somewhat more Democratic and Hispanic than its predecessor. In a significant upset, Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz, a physician, defeated her with 53 percent of the vote to Bono's 47.1 percent.[18]

In 2013, 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]

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.[20] In 2012, she formed and chaired the House Women's Policy Committee, which included 24 female Republican lawmakers from 17 states.[21]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Post-congressional career[edit]

In March 2013, Bono became a senior vice president at the Washington, D.C.-based federal affairs firm Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting.[22][23]

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.[24][better source needed] Also in June 2013, Bono helped lead expansion of Faegre Baker Daniels and Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting into Silicon Valley, in her home state of California.[25][better source needed]

In August 2013, Bono was a panelist at the National Journal's Women 2020 event. At that event, she discussed gender inequality and her experiences as a woman in Congress.[26]

In October 2018, following the Michigan State University sex abuse scandal, Bono was named interim president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics.[27] However, she resigned four days later following criticism over her previous role as a lobbyist for USA Gymnastics amid public concern that she had marked out the Nike logo on her sneakers in protest of Nike's support for NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.[28]

Advocacy and causes[edit]

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."[29]

Personal life[edit]

In March 1986, she married actor/singer Sonny Bono. The Bonos moved to Palm Springs, where they owned and operated a restaurant. Sonny Bono served as Mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992 before being elected to Congress in 1994. The Bonos had two children: Chesare and Chianna.[30] Sonny Bono died on January 5, 1998, in a skiing accident.[7]

After Sonny Bono's death in 1998, Bono began dating Brian Prout, drummer of the country music band Diamond Rio.[31] The two became engaged in 2001 but did not marry.[6][32]

In 2001, Bono married Wyoming businessman Glenn Baxley about 18 months after they met in Mexico. They filed for divorce in 2005.[33]

On December 15, 2007, Bono married Congressman Connie Mack IV (R-FL) in Asheville, North Carolina.[34] In May 2013, the couple announced they had separated on amicable terms.[35] They divorced later that year.[36]

In September 2015, Bono married former astronaut and retired Navy rear admiral Stephen S. Oswald.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Congresswoman Mary Bono". November 14, 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-11-14.
  2. ^ Newton, David E. (7 December 2015). Prescription Drug Abuse: A Reference Handbook. ISBN 9781440839795.
  3. ^ a b "Mary Bono Mack (R)". Wall Street Journal. November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  4. ^ Natividad, Ivan (May 8, 2012). "Take Five With Rep. Mary Bono Mack". Roll Call. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  5. ^ a b c " Special Report: Clinton Accused". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ a b Bardach, Ann (August 1999). "Proud Mary Bono". George Magazine.
  7. ^ a b "CNN – Sonny Bono killed in skiing accident – Jan. 6, 1997". CNN.
  8. ^ " Mary Bono Wins House Seat". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ "Bono Had a Dependence on Painkillers, Widow Says". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 1998.
  10. ^ Branson, Amy; Martinez, Gebe (August 21, 1998). "The Next Grand Jury". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Articles of Impeachment and Judiciary Committee Roll Call Votes". The Washington Post. December 19, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "The Impeachment Vote". The Washington Post. December 19, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  13. ^ "Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack: Biography". Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  14. ^ Duvall, Mark. "Congress Fixes Problems in Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.", August 15, 2011.
  15. ^ "At last, a veterans' clinic is coming to Blythe." Palo Verde Valley Times, 2001.
  16. ^ Chris Geidner, House Passes DADT Repeal Bill Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Metro Weekly (December 15, 2010).
  17. ^ House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Archived 2016-01-18 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times (December 15, 2010).
  18. ^ Lochhead, Carolyn (November 7, 2012), "Mary Bono Mack defeated in Palm Springs upset", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2012-11-07
  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. ^ Mary B. Mack, "Proudly Serving California's 45th District". Archived 2012-06-25 at the Wayback Machine U.S. House of Representatives, June 20, 2012.
  21. ^ Felci, Erica. "Bono Mack Forms Committee for GOP Women Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine." Palm Springs Desert Sun, May 21, 2012.
  22. ^ "Mary Bono resigns as USA Gymnastics CEO — after just four days". October 17, 2018.
  23. ^ "Former Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack Joins FaegreBD Consulting". Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  24. ^ Tau, Byron, and Palmer, Anna. "Exclusive – Communications industry forms privacy coalition." Politico, June 26, 2013.
  25. ^ Press Release – Faegre Baker Daniels Expands Operations to Silicon Valley Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine (June 6, 2013)
  26. ^ "Women in Politics: How They are Challenging Status Quo" panel video., July 18, 2013
  27. ^ "The Honorable Mary Bono has been named interim president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics". USA Gymnastics. US Olympic Committee. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  28. ^ "Mary Bono resigns as USA Gymnastics president". NBC Sports. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  29. ^ Mortenson, Greg (2007). Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0143038252.
  30. ^ Fessier, Bruce. "Sonny Bono: 20 years later, his last ski run feels 'as if it was yesterday'". The Desert Sun.
  31. ^ Van Wyk, Anika (13 July 1999). "Diamond Rio keeps mind on music". Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  32. ^ Diamond Rio; Tom Roland (2009). Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio. Thomas Nelson Publishers. pp. 194–197. ISBN 978-1595552686.
  33. ^ "Reps. Mary Bono, Connie Mack marry". The Associated Press. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  34. ^ "Fox News, GOP House Members Mary Bono and Connie Mack Marry in North Carolina". 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  35. ^ "Connie, Mary Bono Mack divorcing". Politico. 2013-05-24.
  36. ^ a b Heil, Emily. "Former congresswoman Mary Bono weds former astronaut". Washington Post.

External links[edit]

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

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

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative