GOP lawmaker says Reynolds made ‘terrible decision’ to oust DHS chief

DES MOINES — Democrats in the legislature and a prominent Republican are raising concerns about Governor Reynolds’ decision to replace the director of the state’s largest agency. Jerry Foxhoven had been director of the Iowa Department of Human Services for the past two years.

“The best man for the job was asked to leave and I think that’s a terrible decision,” Representative Bobby Kaufmann said this morning.

Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton who’s the son of Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann, has been a member of the Iowa House since January of 2013.

“I think being the head of the Department of Human Services is about the worst job in the state and I think that director Foxhoven was doing an amazing job doing it,” Kaufmann told Radio Iowa. “I’m just very, very sad and I think the people of Iowa should be sad that he’s gone.”

Kaufmann worked closely with Foxhoven in 2017, right after Foxhoven started the job in June of 2017. Kaufmann, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee at the time, said Foxhoven worked with legislators to address concerns about the deaths of two foster care kids who’d been adopted.

“Unless there’s some information that I haven’t been given, based on the knowledge that I have of the job that he was doing and the person that he is, I think it was a terrible decision,” Kaufmann said. “I think the department is going to suffer because of it.”

Governor Reynolds has not commented publicly about the reasoning behind her decision to oust Foxhoven. House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City said the turmoil in the agency “is just the latest sign that Medicaid privatization is failing miserably.” Janet Petersen of Des Moines, the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate, said the agency needs a new director with some “backbone” who will make quality care for children and vulnerable adults a priority.

Reynolds has named Gerd Claybaugh, her public health director, as interim director of the Department of Human Services until she finds a replacement for Foxhoven.