Jerry Foxhoven, the former director of Iowa's Department of Human Services, resigned abruptly last month, reportedly at the request of Iowa's Governor Kim Reynolds—and there’s intrigue over the fact that his resignation took place the day after he sent an email to 4,300 employees celebrating Father's Day and his two-year anniversary. But that wasn’t all the email was celebrating; it was also acknowledging late rapper Tupac Shakur's birthday.
The 66-year-old's constant Tupac references had reportedly started to annoy some of his employees, leading to speculation that he was ousted for getting too deep into Thug Life. Now, the Associated Press has done the public good of requesting over 350 pages of his Tupac emails to get to the bottom of it—and it has all of us demanding justice for Foxhoven.
Foxhoven's last email has him sticking to his guns after complaints about his rabid fandom. Sure, his stanship was over the top, involving weekly "Tupac Fridays" where he played his music at the office, and even "Thug Life" cookies at his 65th birthday party. But the AP deduced from his emails that he was sharing Tupac lyrics in attempts to "inject levity and inspiration into a stressful workplace." He would weave in inspirational lines from hits like "Changes," and find Pac quotes to thematically underscore holidays like Valentine's Day.
But by the time he sent his last email, complaints around the office had reached such a boiling point that his hobby had practically become social activism. In his final email, he encouraged staff to celebrate Father's Day and the rapper’s birthday by listening to his music. He included a smiling photo of Tupac and highlighted the (now ironic) Tupac quote, "Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are two steps ahead." His enthusiasm wasn't lost on his supporters, with one employee, Lisa Bender, replying, "I love your Tupac messages … and the fact that you still send them (despite the haters) makes me appreciate them even more." He told the AP he included the Pac line partly, "to breakdown racist stereotypes about rap music."
However, Foxhoven himself said he doubts he was ousted just for being a Tupac stan, and the agency was reportedly going through some tough contract negotiations, amid other legal troubles. But the Iowa governor's office has also refused to disclose the reason he was asked to resign to Foxhoven or reporters, despite being legally obligated to do so. And if he was ousted because of his affinity for the 90s rap icon, it certainly wouldn't be the first high-profile instance of someone getting the boot for a love of hip-hop. Last year, a Duke University administrator reportedly got two on-campus baristas fired for listening to Young Dolph, prompting Dolph to give each of them $20,000 and a free trip to Rolling Loud Music Festival.
We may never know the real tea behind Foxhoven's departure, but we have to hand it to him for staying true to himself. Luckily for him, there are whole Pinterest mood boards full of Tupac quotes about dusting off the haters to remind him: you gotta keep ya head up.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.