Dennis Bonner (born 14 March 1964, Springfield, Missouri) was elected as a Democrat state legislator representing the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives from January 1995 through January 2003, serving a total of four two-year terms before withdrawing from political life after obtaining a law degree and then practicing law, first in partnership with another former Missouri legislator, Ralph Monaco, and then in his own private practice in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
With his district and constituents mainly in Independence, Missouri and parts of Kansas City, Missouri and adjoining communities, Mr. Bonner's tenure as legislator was marked by his "bucking the tide" and voting or speaking his conscience and the voice of his constituency even when in opposition to the party's leadership in the state's Capitol, Jefferson City, Missouri. Immediately branded a "renegade," Dennis Bonner was expelled from the Democratic Caucus in February 1995 just one month after being sworn in, for refusing to vote for an unprecedented eighth term for Speaker of the House Bob F. Griffin. "He's got to go," Bonner said [at the time]. "Under Bob Griffin's style of government, the caucus is his circus. It's not an open body where you can discuss issues. He never will be challenged." Mr. Griffin later pleaded guilty to Federal corruption charges in 1998, and his sentence was commuted by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2001.
Rep. Bonner later served as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee for General Administration, as Vice-Chairman of the Commerce Committee, and was a member of the House Budget Committee. He was the primary sponsor of "Jake's Law", passed into law in 2001, which requires warrant checks on all individuals being released from jail.
From his 1998 legislator's biography: "Rep. Bonner is a 1982 graduate of William Chrisman High School in Independence. He received a bachelor of arts degree in history in 1992 from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, and a master's degree in public administration in 1994 from the Bloch School of Business, also at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. ... He is a U.S. Army veteran, and served as a member of the Missouri Army National Guard, holding the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7)..."
Mr. Bonner received a Juris Doctorate law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 2001 and was admitted to the Missouri Bar Association. As of May 25, 2016, he is listed as "inactive" which the association defines as attorneys who are "in good standing with the Supreme Court of Missouri but are not eligible to practice law in Missouri."