Hedin, the Stillwater librarian, sent a letter to Bachmann and the state’s two senators in June about the bridge project, asking them to support a smaller structure than the one currently proposed. She said she received replies from the Democratic senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, but not from Bachmann.
The St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, which assists the region’s refugee population, had a good working relationship with Bachmann’s Republican predecessor, Mark Kennedy. So shortly after she took office, the group reached out to Bachmann for help on the case of someone who had been deported to Mexico.
Bachmann’s office did not respond to phone calls and letters, said the administrator, Farhad Mohamud.
“It seems that she never had an intention to have a relationship with our community,” said Mohamud, a social conservative who said he would consider voting for a Republican other than Bachmann for president.
Last year, a school district in Bachmann’s congressional district received national attention after a spate of suicides. Several of the children who took their own lives had been teased for being or appearing gay.
Tammy Aaberg, whose teenage son committed suicide, reached out to Bachmann’s office several times, hoping to meet with the congresswoman about anti-bullying legislation, according to activists who work with Aaberg. But staffers for Bachmann, a well-known opponent of gay rights and same-sex marriage, declined to arrange a meeting for Aaberg with Bachmann or her aides.
Former aides who have grown disenchanted with Bachmann say that she is inundated with requests for her time and that she bends over backward for constituent groups that come by her office in Washington. But one of their chief complaints was that she would skip meetings without warning, leaving them to explain her absence.
Sometimes it was because she did not want to hear from people who disagreed with her, they said, but often there was no explanation.
“If you could further her causes, she would make time for you,” said one former senior aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If she didn’t see any real benefit to her, you wouldn’t be on her schedule.”
Bachmann has a formula for winning elections in the shifting political landscape of her central Minnesota district, where vast tracts of farmland have been carved up into cul-de-sacs and where neighborhoods in and around the largest city, St. Cloud, are becoming more diverse. The changes have polarized the district, although it remains heavily Republican.