Tuesday, 18 February, 2020

Iowa DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven’s Tupac obsession gets him fired

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Adrian Cunningham | 18 July, 2019, 08:58

In his two years at DHS, Foxhoven sent 350 Tupac-related emails, including a birthday email very similar to the message in question.

However, a spokesperson for Reynolds did not confirm or deny that Foxhaven's mass email was the last straw that led to his forced resignation.

"I'm a 66-year-old white guy from the Midwest who likes rap music, who likes Tupac", Foxhoven said, arguing that it was unlikely Iowa governor Kim Reynolds terminated his contract over Tupac. However, the emails demonstrate that Foxhaven consistently used the rapper's words to help build morale and improve the culture of the department - even hosting weekly "Tupac Fridays" and celebrating his own 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words "Thug life".

Foxhoven said he thought it was a "coincidence" that he was forced out after he sent the office-wide email celebrating the rapper.

But many of Foxhoven's supporters appeared to believe that the problems were not sufficient to explain his sudden resignation and that it was likely due to his over-the-top enthusiasm for Tupac Shakur.

"I always try to assume the best of everybody, and I can't imagine that [the governor] would base her decision on the Tupac incident", he told NPR. Luckily, only God can judge him.

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The agency had been embattled in several controversies including hard contract negotiations with managed care companies that run the Medicaid program, a trial detailing alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile home, and an uptick in deaths at a center for the disabled.

Reynolds had appointed Foxhoven, a longtime Drake University law professor, to run the agency in 2017 amid concerns about its handling of cases of children who died from abuse and neglect. But Foxhoven does not believe that, noting that his boss had chose to "go in a different direction" prior to the offending message.

He told the Associated Press he sent the email in an effort to challenge racist stereotypes around rap music.

But in interviews with other news organizations, Foxhoven has expressed doubt that it was his love of Shakur that prompted Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) to ask for his resignation. Several employees reacted positively with notes to Foxhoven - but one noted that the view wasn't universally shared.

"I love your 2pac messages. and the fact that you still send them (despite the haters) makes me appreciate them even more", one employee wrote him.

Apparently encouraged by the support from some of the employees, Foxhoven reportedly said that he was "going to hang in there on him - despite all of the naysayers".