Serious questions about District 73 Florida House candidate Melissa Howard staging a degree from Ohio's Miami University https://t.co/lFvuWI0Pgz @zacjanderson @HeraldTribune pic.twitter.com/tBlFOf0pA8— Matthew Sauer (@MatthewESauer) August 11, 2018
UPDATE: After being caught in a web of lies, Florida Republican Melissa Howard has backed out of running for Florida House of Representatives District 73.
According to The Washington Post, Howard admitted that she lied about her college degree on Monday but initially vowed to continue her campaign. As of Tuesday, however, she withdrew from the race.
Her campaign treasurer, Joe Gruters, confirmed her resignation and told several media outlets that Howard had “made a terrible error in judgment” and that she is “deeply sorry.”
“I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race. ... I am thankful for everyone who gave me so much toward my success,” Howard told reporters.
Despite her admission and statement, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State said they hadn't yet received Howard’s formal notice of withdrawal.
It is unclear how she obtained the diploma she was photographed with, and she hasn't offered an explanation as to why she lied about her academic history in the first place. As The Washington Post notes, not having a college degree wouldn't make her ineligible to run for public office, so it was an unnecessary fabrication.
In fact, county GOP officials didn’t even call for Howard to drop out.
“We don’t support that kind of stuff, but we’re leaving that up to the voters to decide who they best think would represent them and legislate policy on their behalf,” Kathleen King, GOP chairwoman of Manatee County, where Howard lives, said.
Howard maintained that she didn’t intend to “deceive or mislead anyone,” although it would seem that is exactly what she was trying to do by going out of her way to post photographs with a fake diploma instead of just admitting the truth after FLA News first reported it.
In any case, it's probably for the best that Howard withdrew her candidacy as her credibility has been jeopardized and she showed voters that she cannot be trusted to be transparent and truthful.
Yet another GOP candidate’s deception has been brought to light ahead of midterm elections.
Apparently, Melissa Howard — a Republican who is running for Florida House of Representatives District 73 — didn’t actually earn a degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as she had claimed in her candidate bio.
The shocking revelation initially came from FLA News, which calls itself "the conservative choice for Florida news and politics.”
In response, Howard’s campaign maintained that the story was nothing more than an attempt to “hurt Melissa or her reputation within the community” orchestrated by her opponent in the primary, according to CNN.
In an effort to prove her side of the story, the 46-year-old candidate posted photos on Facebook of her posing with what appeared to be a framed diploma from the university.
After Howard posted the photos, FLA News briefly retracted its story.
Melissa Howard, a #Republican candidate for the Florida House, lied about having a college degree and posed with a fake diploma after a news outlet questioned her credentials: https://t.co/HkQKq7va3K pic.twitter.com/wjmXu58QTu— Jeffrey Guterman, Ph.D. (@JeffreyGuterman) August 11, 2018
ICYMI: Florida House Candidate #MelissaHoward posted these photos on her Facebook page and then deleted the posts. @miamiuniversity says Howard may have faked her degree.— ABC7 Sarasota (@mysuncoast) August 13, 2018
STORY HERE: https://t.co/0caqcZZNBx
(Source: Melissa Howard Facebook Page) pic.twitter.com/snUZtr8Iee
However, Miami University officials reportedly corroborated FLA News’ original article by confirming to CNN that the school has no record of Howard receiving a degree from them. Although Howard did attend the school under her maiden name, Melissa Marie Fox, from August 1990 to May 1994, she never actually graduated.
Additionally, the university called attention to some discrepancies in the image of the diploma that Howard posted. The document in Howard’s photo stated that she received a bachelor of science in Marketing. However, the university said that it doesn't offer a degree under that name.
The university’s degree for marketing majors is called a bachelor of science in Business and has been referred to as such since Howard attended the school.
Furthermore, the school noted that Howard’s major while she was a student at Miami University was actually retailing, which would have been under the bachelor of science in Family and Consumer Sciences degree.
The nail in the coffin, so to speak, is the fact that Howard’s so-called diploma included the signatures of James Garland — who was president of the university in 1996 — and Robert C. Johnson who was the dean of the graduate school, not undergraduate.
In a nutshell, the university counsel told CNN that the document Howard posed with in the photo “does not appear to be an accurate Miami University diploma.”
Ironically, CNN also noted that as of Sunday, the images Howard posted with her degree were no longer available.
As it seems, Howard fabricated or doctored an official document for the sake of keeping a blatant lie alive. While she may be an accomplished marketing business owner now, she clearly built her success on a foundation of fraud and deceit.
If she could stoop this low for personal gain, there's no telling what other corrupt deeds she would do as an elected official to further her own political agenda.
This should certainly be a red flag for Florida voters to think twice before choosing Howard to represent them.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Chris Light