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Iowa official who liked to host "Tupac Fridays" might've been ousted for liking Tupac too much

Photo: Al Pereira (Getty Images)

It might make you roll your eyes to hear that a 66-year social services director in Iowa liked to slip quotes from the late Tupac Shakur in emails to his staff, an act that gives off a real “how do you do, fellow kids” vibe. The story of Jerry Foxhoven, however, is more complicated—he was no fair-weather fan, a new report from The Associated Press reveals, and it may have cost him his job.

Per the report, Foxhoven hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” that encouraged employees to play the rapper’s music in the office. He also celebrated his 65th birthday with cookies featuring the words “thug life,” and sent enough Shakur-themed emails to fill 350 pages. Those emails “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,” the AP reports.


Anyways, Foxhoven was told to resign by Gov. Kim Reynolds last month, and some find it curious that his departure came on the first work day after he sent an email to the agency’s 4,300 employees urging them to celebrate Shakur’s birthday over that weekend. Though NPR’s Tim Mak characterizes it as “a kind email” in the below tweet, it’s being speculated that Foxhoven’s fandom was a factor in his firing.

The governor’s office isn’t giving a good reason, after all, despite there being a law in Iowa that requires state agencies to provide the “documented reasons and rationale” for an employee’s resignation. A spokesperson simply said that “a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven” and that “Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction.” Foxhoven, for his part, echoed the statement, telling AP that he doesn’t think Shakur is the reason for his firing.

Still, despite AP reporting that a number of employees enjoyed how his Shakur fandom could “inject levity and inspiration into a stressful workplace,” they also say “at least one” hater complained about it. That dissenter may have been on Foxhoven’s mind when he penned that final email, as it found him sharing a particularly resonant Shakur quote. “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back,” he wrote,it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead.”


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Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.