DES MOINES, Iowa – Jerry Foxhoven, former director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, announced on Thursday that he would file a wrongful termination claim with the State Appeals Board.
Foxhoven was asked by Governor Kim Reynolds to resign in June. He said he was concerned about the legality of DHS continuing to pay for a former department employee who became Reynolds deputy chief of staff, Paige Thorson, and was asked to resign shortly after he requested a legal opinion of the matter. He said he was hesitant to sign-off on the agreement because it involved federal Medicaid money and he did not believe Thorson furthered the interests of the department. Foxhoven agreed to a similar salary arrangement in 2018.
Foxhoven said after being forced to resign he spoke with and investigator with the Office of the Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as, with State Auditor Rob Sand.
“Anyone who knows me knows, and hopefully the governor knew me well enough to know, if you ask me to do something that’s illegal or wrong, I’m not going to do it,” Foxhoven told reporters on Thursday.
He said he brought his concerns to Sara Craig Gongol, the Governor’s chief of staff, who denies he raised concerns about the salary agreement with her.
Reynolds, in a released statement, reiterated that many factors went into her decision change the leadership at DHS and that she would never ask anyone to do something they thought was illegal.
“As I have consistently shared with Iowans, many factors went into my decision to ask for Jerry Foxhoven’s resignation. Foxhoven never raised concerns with me or my staff about the salary agreements in question, and he never asked my staff for a legal opinion or said he would be reaching out to the Attorney General’s office for one. I would never ask anyone to do something they thought was illegal. My focus remains on the many Iowans that DHS serves, and I am committed to selecting a new director who will take this agency to the next level,” she said.