A former Iowa state official’s fixation on rapper Tupac Shakur may have cost him his job.
It was no secret that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven was an avid Tupac fan, so much so that he frequently sent his colleagues messages praising the late lyricist, who was fatally shot in 1996. In fact, a report by The Associated Press showed that, during his two-year tenure at Iowa DHS, Foxhaven sent more than 350 pages of e-mails that included the words “Tupac” or “2Pac” to his co-workers.
In June, he sent another such email to the agency’s 4,300 employees, urging them to mark Tupac’s birthday over the weekend by jamming out to one of his songs. Tupac would have been 48 on June 16. Days later, Gov. Kim Reynolds forced him to resign.
Documents obtained by the AP showed Foxhoven would often use Shakur’s lyrics to inject energy and inspiration into the workplace, even after at least one employee complained to lawmakers about it in 2018. From hosting weekly “Tupac Fridays” in the office, to email blasts marking the anniversary of the rapper’s death, Foxhaven’s love for the “Dear Mama” crooner was seemingly unmatched.
The social services director shared Shakur’s lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day and even brought Tupac-themed cookies, decorated with the words “Thug Life,” to work to celebrate his own 65th birthday. According to the report, Foxhaven told colleagues he was most inspired by the rapper’s lyrics that included the line: “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.”
The timing of Foxhaven’s ouster and his mass email celebrating the late rapper have led many to speculate he was forced out because of it. Josh Opperman, who attended Drake University’s law program when Foxhaven headed the school’s legal clinic, thinks otherwise.
“Well, I highly doubt this is the reason he was asked to resign,” Opperman told local station KCCI, saying he didn’t consider Foxhaven’s behavior to be inappropriate.
“It was well known among Drake students and staff that he was a fan of Tupac,” he added.
The governor’s office has remained mum on the reason behind Foxhaven’s resignation and has not said whether his preoccupation with Pac factored into her decision. Reynolds told KCCI last month that “a lot of factors” led to her asking Foxhoven to leave the agency.
AP reported that Foxhoven’s ouster came amid several controversies at the department, which included ” difficult contract negotiations with managed care companies that run the Medicaid program,” and a spate of deaths at a care facility for the disabled.
“As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven,” spokesman Pat Garrett told the outlet. “And now Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction.”
Foxhoven was appointed director of the agency in 2017. The former official said he’s unsure why he was asked to resign, but said he doubts Tupac was the reason. His June 14t email left a lasting impact.
“Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead,” he wrote, quoting the rapper.