The director of Iowa's social services agency was a huge fan of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, and he frequently let his subordinates know it. Emails obtained by the AP show that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely sent messages to employees lauding Shakur's music and lyrics. 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. Then last month, Foxhoven sent another such email to all 4,300 agency employees, telling them to mark Shakur's birthday over the weekend by listening to one of his songs. Gov. Kim Reynolds told Foxhoven to resign on June 17, the next work day.
The timing of Foxhoven's mass email, which featured a large image of the rapper smiling, and his resignation has fueled speculation among employees that the two events are linked. But like the question of who fatally shot Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996, the reason for Foxhoven's forced departure remains a mystery. A rep for the governor wouldn't confirm or deny that Foxhoven's email figured into her surprise request for his resignation; Foxhoven himself doubts it. The 66-year-old had hosted weekly "Tupac Fridays" to play his music in the office and marked his own 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words "Thug life." Some 350 pages of emails with the words "Tupac" or "2Pac" sent to and from Foxhoven during his two-year tenure show that Foxhoven shared one of Shakur's 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 like: "It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes." (The AP has more on the story here.)