Jerry Foxhoven says he was forced to resign because he wouldn’t approve using DHS funds to pay a Reynolds staffer

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Video still of Jerry Foxhoven on Iowa Public Television.

Former Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven believes his objection to using DHS funds to pay the salary of a member of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ staff is what led to his forced resignation, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Foxhoven told Pitchfork magazine last week, “[Reynolds’] staff asked me to do something that I thought was illegal and I wouldn’t do it and so they said, ‘O.K., well then you need to go.”

He didn’t tell the magazine what he’d been asked to do, but said, “I was concerned about the legality of what they asked. I was concerned and said I wouldn’t do it without a legal opinion.”

Foxhoven said he was told to resign before he could request a legal opinion.

According to the AP, immediately before his resignation, Foxhoven was asked to approve using DHS funds to pay the salary of Elizabeth Matney, a former DHS employee who joined Reynolds’ staff as an advisor on health policy in May.

“I can confirm that I was concerned about the legality of using DHS funds to pay the salaries of the governor’s staff,” Foxhoven told the AP. “I wanted an opinion about the legality of this from the attorney general’s office before I would act on the governor’s office request. I was asked to step down before I could ask for that legal opinion.”

Reynolds has refused to explain why Foxhoven was forced to resign on June 17. Two days after Foxhoven’s resignation, Reynolds told reporters, “There are a lot of factors that went into that decision. I’m not going to get into them.”

When she was asked last week by KCRG to explain why Foxhoven was forced out, Reynolds said, “No, I’m just not going to get into that. I just don’t think that that’s healthy and there’s no reason to do that.”

The reporter also asked the governor if the public has the right to know why she effectively fired the head of a state agency with a budget of $6.5 billion and almost 5,000 employees. Reynolds replied, “I don’t think so.”

In response to questions from the AP about Foxhoven’s belief that he was forced out over his concerns about using DHS funds to pay Matney, a Reynolds spokesperson pointed out that Iowa governors of both parties have used funds from various state agencies to pay the salaries of staffers. The former DHS director, in fact, had approved the use of agency funds to pay members of the governor’s staff on three previous occasions.

Foxhoven has not explained what made the request for funds in Matney’s case different. He has also not explained why he brought the matter to the attention of the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That office “is responsible for protecting the integrity of DHHS programs including Medicaid,” the AP noted.

The federal government provides 66 percent of the money for the Medicaid program in Iowa. As DHS director, Foxhoven was in charge of administrating the program in the state.

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Reynolds appointed Gerd Clabaugh interim DHS director after Foxhoven resigned. Claubaugh approved the use of DHS funds to pay Matney on June 19, two days after Foxhoven’s resignation.

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  1. Republicans have became blatant about using their power to get what they want. Reynolds is no great politician-she used her position to make it through law school. She is really coming into her own under Trump.

  2. I don’t know Foxhoven, but here’s the impressive résumé (from the Governor’s own 2017 press release) of the outstanding public servant that Her Royal Empress Kim Reynolds disgracefully discarded while she demolishes Medicaid in Iowa:

    Most recently, Foxhoven served as executive director of Clinical Programs and Professor of Law at Drake University’s School of Law. There, he supervised a number of administrative responsibilities relating to the school.
    Foxhoven’s child protection leadership experience includes:
    • Co-Chair, Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being Workgroup, 2015-16
    • Chair, Iowa Juvenile Home Protection Task Force (appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad), 2013
    • Member, Children Disabilities Services Workgroup, Mental Health and Disabilities Redesign Project, 2011-13
    • Facilitator, Iowa Child Abuse Registry Revision Workgroup
    • Chair, Iowa Child Welfare Advisory Committee, 2008-16 (appointed by Gov. Chet Culver and confirmed by the Iowa Senate)
    • Board of Directors, National CASA, 2006-09
    • Board of Directors, Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Council, 2010-2015
    • Member, Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, Iowa Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, 2005-2012
    • Member, Iowa Children’s Justice State Council, 2007-2014
    • Member, Iowa Child Policy Coalition, 2007-present
    • Member, Iowa Child Protection Council, 2003-2019 (Chair, 2004-2016)
    • Member, National Advisory Board, Fostering Families Today magazine, 2001-present
    • Member, Diversity Committee, Iowa Supreme Court Select Committee to Review State Court Practices in Child Welfare Matters, 2000-2007
    • Senior Fellow, Center for Adoption Research, University of Massachusetts, 2002-2004
    • Board of Directors, Iowa Friends of Foster Children Foundation, 1989-2002 (President, 1997, 1999-2002)
    • Governing Board Member, Kidsake, Iowa’s Special Needs Adoption Project, 2000-2002
    • Member, National Foster Care Advisory Committee, Child Welfare League of America, 1998-2000
    • Chair, Oversight Committee and Chair, Advisory Committee, Enhanced Quality Improvement Project (EQUIO). A three
    Foxhoven has earned a number of state and national awards for his work on behalf of children and efforts to bolster diversity:
    • “Friend of Children” award from The Coalition for Family and Children Services in Iowa, 2016
    • “Outstanding Contribution to the Well-Being of Children and Youth” award from YESS in Ames, 2013
    • “Friend of BLSA” award from the Black Law Student Association at Drake University
    • “Margaret Hess Leadership in Family Empowerment (LIVE)” award from Youth and Shelter Services, 2013
    • “American Dreams” award from the Iowa Friends of Foster Children Foundation, 2008
    • “Champion for Children award from Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, 2007
    • “Friend to Iowa’s Foster/Adopted Youth and Alumni” award, Elevate to Inspire, Children & Families of Iowa, 2007
    • “Angel in Adoption” award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, 2004
    • “Leader of the Year” award from Gov. Thomas Vilsack, 2002
    • Served on many committees and workgroups on racial disparity issues, including the Legal Redress Committee of the Des Moines Branch of the NAACP, the Diversity Committee of National CASA and the Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee of the Iowa Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (a program of the Iowa Department of Human Rights)
    • Served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, and as faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges on the issue of disproportionate treatment based on race and ethnicity
    • Lectured on racial and ethnic over-representation issues in Portland (Ore.), New Orleans, Louisiana, Newark (N.J.), Philadelphia, Louisville and across the state of Iowa
    Foxhoven has authored a number of articles and given hundreds of presentations throughout Iowa and the country. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Morningside College in 1974 and earned his Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School in 1977.

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