The director of Iowa’s Department of Human Services is such a huge fan of Tupac Shakur that his obsession cost him his job.
Jerry Foxhoven consistently sent emails to employees raving about the slain rapper’s music and lyrics even after one employee complained to lawmakers, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.
Foxhoven sent another message last month to all 4,300 agency employees, which caused the director to be abruptly fired the day after, reports Huff Post.
The 66-year-old told employees that he’d been a major fan of the “All Eyez On Me” rapper for years. Foxhoven would celebrate the artist by hosting “Tupac Fridays” weekly, where he would play 2Pac’s music in the office.
He also celebrated his 65th birthday with Tupac Shakur “Thug Life”-themed cookies. Foxhoven would also exchange lyrics with employees.
The social services agency shared 350 pages of emails that cited “Tupac” or “2Pac” that were sent to and from the director over the course of his two-year stint at the agency after the AP requested it.
The emails revealed that Foxhoven used the rapper and actor’s image in an attempt to change the agency’s culture. He shared with employees that he was inspired by 2Pac’s lyrics, “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes,” which came from 2pac’s hit record “Changes.”
Foxhoven also marked the anniversary of Shakur’s death and shared one of the rapper’s lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day. Although some employees applauded Foxhoven, at least one made complaints to lawmakers about Foxhoven’s antics last year, according to the emails provided under the open records law.
Gov. Kim Reynolds told the director to resign on June 17, a day after Foxhoven sent an agency-wide email telling employees to honor the rapper’s birthday over the weekend by listening to the rapper’s music.
There’s now speculation within the agency regarding whether or not the two actions are linked. However, Foxhoven’s forced departure is still a mystery.
The governor’s spokesman wouldn’t confirm or deny that the director’s firing was due to Foxhoven’s last email, which featured a huge photo of Shakur smiling.
“As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven and now Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction,” said spokesman Pat Garrett.
The state of Iowa has a law that requires state agencies to release the “documented reasons and rationale,” when employees resign instead of being terminated, however, Reynolds’ office has refused to divulge information regarding those factors.
The director’s forced resignation took place amid several controversies involving the social services agency, including a trial that details the alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile facility and an increase in deaths at a center for disabled residents. However, Foxhoven’s position didn’t seem to be in question.
The governor appointed Foxhoven in 2017 amid concerns regarding the agency’s handling of cases of children who died from neglect and abuse. Foxhoven was a longtime law professor at Drake University.
In a text message, Foxhoven stated that he believed Reynolds had decided to “go in a different direction” prior to him sending the email on June 14. He said that he did not receive a reason for the request to resign but he doubted that his enthusiasm for 2Pac was a factor.
“Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead,” an “inspirational” quote was included in the email from Foxhoven. He noted in the email that in addition to 2pac’s birthday, he was celebrating his two-year anniversary as director. He also thanked employees for their contributions to the agency.
Foxhoven claimed that he sent the message, which was similar to a prior email he sent the year before to mark the day and to break down racist stereotypes about rap music.