Hagedorn says ‘no’ to more meetings with liberal group

Jim Hagedorn speaks at MPR News debate in October 2018.
Jim Hagedorn speaks at MPR News debate in October 2018. Hagedorn has told the local chapter of Indivisible that his Minnesota staff will no longer accept in-person meetings.
Tony Saunders | MPR News 2018

First District Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn says his Minnesota office staff will no longer meet in-person with members of the local chapter of the liberal group Indivisible.

In a letter addressed to the St. Peter and Greater Mankato Indivisible group, Hagedorn said the organization was taking too much of his staff's time and that a member of the group admitted in a recent meeting that it was an intentional tactic.

A Hagedorn spokesperson declined an interview but said in an email the policy applies to all Indivisible groups in any district office.

Yurie Hong is a leader for the St. Peter and Greater Mankato Indivisible group. She said a handful of Indivisible members have met with Hagedorn's staff weekly to discuss issues briefly, and that those meetings have been occurring since the office opened after Hagedorn won the seat in the 2018 election.

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"He and his staff do not view constituents as important and worth listening to," she said. “They do not want to hear from people they don't already agree with."

Congressional district staff are often tapped to meet with constituents about issues.

But in the letter, Hagedorn wrote the staff's work "cannot be efficiently and effectively performed when a very small, very vocal group demands a wholly disproportionate amount of the people's time."

Hagedorn encouraged Indivisible members to write his office with concerns or voice them at town halls.

But Hong and others have criticized Hagedorn for not giving constituents enough notice about town halls, holding them over the phone rather than in-person, or holding too few of them. Hagedorn said he will hold at least 18 town halls in the district before the end of May 2020.

Indivisible is a national group with local chapters that operate independently. A Facebook group for the St. Peter-Greater Mankato chapter has 713 members.