|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
April 7, 1998 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Sonny Bono|
|Succeeded by||Raul Ruiz|
|Constituency||44th district (1998–2003)|
45th district (2003–2013)
October 24, 1961
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
(m. 1986; died 1998)
(m. 2001; div. 2005)
(m. 2007; div. 2013)
|Education||University 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 re-election 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.
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. She graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1979. Whitaker graduated from the University of Southern California in 1984 with a bachelor of arts in art history. She was an accomplished gymnast in her youth. Whitaker worked as a cocktail waitress during her early twenties.
In 1986, Whitaker married actor/singer Sonny Bono. Mary and Sonny Bono moved to Palm Springs, where Sonny Bono served as mayor from 1988 to 1992 before being elected to Congress in 1994. Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998.
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. Bono won election to a full term on November 3, 1998.
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. Bono voted along party lines on all four motions for impeachment in both the committee and on the House floor, despite other moderate Republican House members voting against Articles II, III, and IV. Bono's service on the House Judiciary panel increased her national profile considerably.
Bono served in Congress for 15 years. 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. The daughter of a veteran, Bono also played a key role in creation of much-needed VA clinics in Blythe and Palm Desert, California. 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.
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.
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. In 2012, she formed and chaired the House Women's Policy Committee, which included 24 female Republican lawmakers from 17 states.
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.[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.[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.
In October 2018, following the Michigan State University sex abuse scandal, Bono was named interim president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics. 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.
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."
In March 1986, Bono 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. Sonny Bono died on January 5, 1998 in a skiing accident.
In 2001, Bono married Wyoming businessman Glenn Baxley about 18 months after they met in Mexico. They filed for divorce in 2005.
On December 15, 2007, Bono married Congressman Connie Mack IV (R-FL) in Asheville, North Carolina. In May 2013, the couple announced they had separated on amicable terms. They divorced later that year.
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