Keep Ya Head Up: Iowa Official and Tupac Superfan Forced to Resign After Sending Mass Email Quoting the Rapper

Former Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven, left, and former Iowa Sen. Matt McCoy (D).
Screenshot: YouTube

Jerry Foxhoven—his real name, not his rap name—was the director of Iowa’s social services agency. He was also a huge fan of late rapper Tupac Shakur and he reportedly let his workers know it.

According to the Associated Press, Foxhoven—or “Hov-N” as he will be called for the rest of this article—sent messages to his employees praising Shakur’s lyricism. One day, he accidentally emailed his “(California) Love” for the slain rapper to some 4,300 agency employees and the next day he resigned.

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The 66-year-old’s “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” included hosting “Tupac Fridays,” in which he played the rapper’s music, which I’m sure went over well in the Iowa government offices.

Hov-N even “marked his own 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words ‘Thug Life.’”

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From AP:

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.

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No one is quite sure if the email, which AP notes, “featured a large image of the rapper smiling,” is the reason for Hov-N’s forced resignation but it wouldn’t be a “Hail Mary to assume that the two events are related.

“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,” the governor’s spokesman, Pat Garrett, told AP.

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The governor’s office refused to comment on whether Hov-N’s theological speculation, “I Wonder If Heaven’s Got a Ghetto, during work hours is what contributed to his ouster.

Also from AP:

Foxhoven’s ouster came amid multiple controversies involving the agency, which has a nearly $7 billion annual budget. They included difficult contract negotiations with managed care companies that run the Medicaid program, a trial detailing alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile home, and an uptick in deaths at a center for the disabled. Still, Foxhoven’s job had not appeared to be in danger.

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 from abuse and neglect.

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Hov-N said to his bosses, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” as he knew the agency had made the decision to go in a different direction before he sent the email and he doubts that his “Thug Luv” for Pac weighed in their decision, AP reports.

Hov-N ended his companywide email with a missive that could serve us all:

“Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead.”

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Hov-N won’t “Shed So Many Tears as he noted that he sent the lyrics to break down stereotypes surrounding hip-hop.

“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.

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

Or as Pac would say, Hov-N will remain a Thug 4 Life.

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About the author

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.