IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – 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 Associated Press show that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely sent messages to employees lauding Shakur’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. He was abruptly ousted from his job the next work day.
Foxhoven, 66, told employees that he had been a huge fan of the hip-hop artiste for years. He hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” to play his music in the office. He traded lyrics with employees and he marked his own 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words “Thug life”.
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 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 Governor 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.