Former Iowa GOP Rep. Wiley Mayne Dies at 90

Posted June 1, 2007 at 5:34pm

Wiley Mayne, a former Iowa Republican Representative, died May 27 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa. He was 90 years old. [IMGCAP(1)]

While in Congress, Mayne sat on the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of then-President Richard Nixon. Presented with the evidence, Mayne decided to stand by the president and voted with the minority against censure. It was a decision many regarded as costing him the subsequent election, which he lost by less than 10 percent of the vote.

“Wiley Mayne would have been a 30-year congressman if it wouldn’t have been for Watergate,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) said in a statement. “He was an institution in Northwest Iowa politics and served the Siouxland community long after his time in elected office.”

Preceding the vote, Mayne said that while he believed the president was in the wrong, he was not sure the actions constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors” as required by the law and said in a July 1974 debate on the articles of impeachment, “no vote by any Member against any one or more of the proposed articles of impeachment should be interpreted as an endorsement or an approval of what went on at the White House.”

Even though Mayne’s four-term tenure in the House representing Iowa’s now-defunct 6th district was marred by the Watergate scandal, some colleagues who served with him remember him as a unifying figure.

“I remember him as a really consummate gentleman and someone who really worked in a constructive and bipartisan spirit,” former Iowa Sen. John Culver (D) said, noting that although the two men hailed from opposite political parties they “always enjoyed a most cordial relationship.”

Born Jan. 19, 1917, in the western Iowa town of Sanborn, Mayne attended Harvard College, from which he graduated with honors. Afterward he enrolled in Harvard Law School, staying one year before transferring to and completing his law degree at the University of Iowa. After graduating from law school, Mayne worked as a special agent for three years at the FBI before serving as a supply officer in the Navy.

After World War II and before winning election to Congress, he worked as a lawyer in Sioux City, a position he would return to after his 1974 defeat.

He was preceded in death by his wife and survived by his three children. Funeral services were held Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church in Sioux City.