'Thug life' cookies: Emails present Iowa official's Tupac fixation earlier than abrupt resignation

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The director of Iowa’s social companies company was an enormous fan of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, and he often let his subordinates realize it.

Emails obtained by The Related Press present that Iowa Division of Human Providers Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely despatched messages to workers lauding Shakur’s music and lyrics even after no less than one complained to lawmakers. Then final month, he despatched one other such e mail to all 4,300 company workers. He was abruptly ousted from his job the subsequent work day.

Foxhoven, 66, advised workers that he had been an enormous fan of the hip-hop artist for years. He hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” to play his music within the workplace. He traded lyrics with workers and he marked his personal 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, together with ones adorned with the phrases “Thug life.”

The company launched 350 pages of emails with the phrases “Tupac” or “2Pac” despatched to and from Foxhoven throughout his two-year tenure in response to an AP request. They present that Foxhoven marked the anniversary of Shakur’s demise, shared one in every of his lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day and used the rapper’s picture to attempt to enhance the company’s tradition. He advised colleagues he was impressed by lyrics that included: “It is time for us as a folks to begin makin’ some modifications.”

Whereas some workers praised Foxhoven for utilizing Shakur to inject levity and inspiration right into a disturbing office, no less than one complained to lawmakers about it final yr, in keeping with the emails supplied beneath the open data legislation. And when Gov. Kim Reynolds advised Foxhoven to resign on June 17, it was his first work day after he despatched an agency-wide e mail telling workers to mark Shakur’s birthday over the weekend by listening to one in every of his songs.

The timing of Foxhoven’s mass e mail, which featured a big picture of the rapper smiling, and his resignation has fueled hypothesis amongst workers that the 2 occasions are linked. However just like the query of who fatally shot Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996, the explanation for Foxhoven’s compelled departure stays a thriller.

A spokesman for the governor would not verify or deny that Foxhoven’s e mail figured into her shock request for his resignation.

“Because the governor has mentioned, loads of elements contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven and now Gov. Reynolds is wanting ahead to taking DHS in a brand new path,” mentioned spokesman Pat Garrett.

The governor’s workplace has refused to elaborate on these elements, regardless of an Iowa legislation that requires state companies to launch the “documented causes and rationale” when workers resign as a substitute of being terminated.

Foxhoven’s ouster got here amid a number of controversies involving the company, which has a virtually $7 billion annual finances. They included troublesome contract negotiations with managed care corporations that run the Medicaid program, a trial detailing alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile residence, and an uptick in deaths at a middle for the disabled. Nonetheless, Foxhoven’s job had not gave the impression to be at risk.

Reynolds had appointed Foxhoven, a longtime Drake College legislation professor, to run the company in 2017 amid issues about its dealing with of circumstances of kids who died from abuse and neglect.

Foxhoven mentioned in a textual content message that he believed Reynolds had made the choice to “go in a unique path” earlier than he despatched the June 14 e mail. He mentioned he wasn’t given a motive for the resignation request however that he doubted Shakur was an element.

The e-mail included what Foxhoven known as an inspirational quote from the artist: “Pay no thoughts to those that speak behind your again, it merely means that you’re 2 steps forward.” Foxhoven famous that, along with Shakur’s birthday, he was celebrating his two-year anniversary as director and he thanked the workers for his or her work.

Foxhoven mentioned he despatched the message, which was just like an e mail he despatched the prior yr to mark the day, to interrupt down racist stereotypes about rap music.

A number of workers reacted positively with notes to Foxhoven – however one famous that the view wasn’t universally shared.

“I really like your 2pac messages … and the truth that you continue to ship them (regardless of the haters) makes me admire them much more,” worker Lisa Bender wrote.

“I agree completely. I’m going to hold in there on him — regardless of the entire naysayers,” Foxhoven responded.

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