The director of Iowa’s social services agency is a huge fan of Tupac Shakur, which ultimately ended up costing him his job.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely sent messages to employees that included Pac’s music and lyrics, even after at least one complained to lawmakers. Then, last month, he sent another such email to all 4,300 agency employees–and after that, he was fired from his job the next work day.
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66-year-old Foxhoven told employees that he had been a huge fan of the rapper for years. He even hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” to play his music in the office. The agency ended up releasing 350 pages of emails with the words “Tupac” or “2Pac” sent to and from Foxhoven during his two-year tenure at the company. These communications show incidents like that Foxhoven marking the anniversary of Shakur’s death, sharing one of his lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day, and using the rapper’s image to try to improve the agency’s culture. He told his colleagues that he was inspired by lyrics that included: “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.”
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The timing of Foxhoven’s mass email and his resignation has fueled speculation among employees that the two events are linked, but a spokesman for the governor wouldn’t confirm or deny that his email encouraging employees to listen to some Pac in honor of his birthday figured into her request for his resignation.
Foxhoven himself 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 he said he doubted Shakur was a factor.
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The now-infamous email included what Jerry 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.” He 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.
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