Emails show Iowa official’s Tupac fixation before his ouster

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(AP Photo/Frank Wiese, File)

IOWA CITY (KRON) – Iowa’s Department of Human Services Jerry Foxhoven, was forced to resign due to an email he sent out to 4,300 agency employees.

Foxhoven expressed his love for rap in Tupac Shakur quotes he sent out to his staff.

The agency released 350 pages of emails with the words “Tupac” or “2Pac” sent to and from Foxhoven during his two-year tenure in response to an AP request. They show that Foxhoven marked the anniversary of Shakur’s death, shared one of his lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day and used the rapper’s image to try to improve the agency’s culture. He told colleagues he was inspired by lyrics that included: “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.”

While some employees praised Foxhoven for using Shakur to inject levity and inspiration into a stressful workplace, at least one complained to lawmakers about it last year, according to the emails provided under the open records law. And when Gov. Kim Reynolds told Foxhoven to resign on June 17, it was his first work day after he sent an agency-wide email telling employees to mark Shakur’s birthday over the weekend by listening to one of his songs.

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 of abuse and neglect.

Foxhoven said in a text message that he believed Reynolds had made the decision to “go in a different direction” before he sent the June 14 email. He said he wasn’t given a reason for the resignation request but that he doubted Shakur was a factor.

The email included what Foxhoven called an inspirational quote from the artist: “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead.” Foxhoven noted that, in addition to Shakur’s birthday, he was celebrating his two-year anniversary as director and he thanked the staff for their work.

Foxhoven said he sent the message, which was similar to an email he sent the prior year to mark the day, to break down racist stereotypes about rap music.

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,” employee Lisa Bender wrote.

“I agree totally. I am going to hang in there on him — despite all of the naysayers,” Foxhoven responded.

You gotta keep your head up, Jerry Foxhoven.

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