Keep Ya Head Up: Iowa Social Services Director Fired for Loving Tupac Too Much
Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely emailed Tupac lyrics to 4,300 state employees. The state’s governor, however, was not enthused by the fandom.
Published on July 17, 2019

Today, all eyes are on former Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven. After two years at the helm of The Hawkeye State social services department, Foxhoven was fired last month, with recently released details of his ousting proving that there’s no such thing as unconditional love in state politics.

According to a request for information sent to the Department of Human Services from the Associated Press, during his tenure as head of the agency, Foxhoven routinely used his platform to prosthelytize his fandom for the late rapper Tupac Shakur to more than 4,300 subordinate employees.

Foxhoven, a 66-year-old, frequently sent mass emails to agency employees containing Tupac lyrics and inspirational quotes. Responding to the AP’s information request, a department employee disclosed some 350 emails sent from Foxhoven mentioning Pac in some form or fashion. Needless to say, his emails got around. Agency employees even said that on his 65th birthday, Foxhoven brought in cookies decorated with “Thug Life” icing.

It is not exactly clear why Foxhoven was so insistent on bringing his superfandom into the workplace. But during his time with the state agency, at least one Iowa lawmaker complained to state officials about Foxhoven’s Makaveli obsession. When asked about the emails, Foxhoven said that he shared Tupac lyrics to “break down racist stereotypes about rap music.” 

And while Foxhoven noted that he received a number of compliments and words of encouragement from coworkers about the messages, those sentiments were not shared by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. At the end of the day, it was just Foxhoven against the world — or at least the Iowa state government.

On June 17th, one day after Foxhoven sent an email featuring a smiling photo of the rapper and the quote, "Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead," — alongside a suggestion to celebrate the deceased rapper’s birthday by listening to his music — Gov. Reynolds asked for Foxhoven’s resignation. When asked about the impetus for Foxhoven’s departure, though, Gov. Reynolds’ office refused to mention anything about the “California Love” rapper.

"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," Pat Garrett, the governor’s spokesman, told the AP.

And while Foxhoven may have thought that his position would last until the end of time, he stepped down without fanfare, heeding the words of the same Pac quote he sent to DHS employees. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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