GOP Candidate Accused Of Faking Diploma, University Says She Didn’t Graduate

Florida House candidate Melissa Howard claimed she had a bachelor's degree from Miami University in Ohio. University officials say she never graduated.

Melissa Howard says she has a degree from Miami University, but university officials say she never graduated.
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Florida House candidate Melissa Howard claimed she had a bachelor's degree from Miami University in Ohio. University officials say she never graduated.

Melissa Howard, a Republican candidate for a House seat in Florida’s 73rd district, claims she graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She posted a picture of herself and her mother posing with her framed diploma to Facebook in an effort to clear her name.

According to 10News, Miami University officials have reached out to several news outlets to say the candidate does not have a degree. She did attend the school, but she did not graduate.

FLA News initially reported that Melissa Howard didn’t have a degree on Tuesday. Howard posted the picture in response to that claim, and FLA News rescinded their story.

Since then, Miami University officials have reviewed the photo and reached out to comment.

Claire Webster, the director of university news and communications for Miami, reached out to 10News via email. She confirmed that there was no record of a Melissa Marie Fox, which was Howard’s name at the time she would have been enrolled, earning a degree from the school.

Robin Parker, Miami University general counsel, confirmed the same information with FLA News.

Both school officials pointed out several inconsistencies in the diploma Howard posted to Facebook. For example, the diploma in the picture states that Howard earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

Miami University doesn’t offer this degree. Those who want to major in marketing earn a Bachelor of Science in Business. Howard’s major was in Retailing when she was enrolled, and if she had graduated, her degree would have been a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences.

Howard’s diploma also shows signatures from James C. Garland, former Miami University president, and Robert C. Johnson, dean. Garland was president in 1996, the year she claimed to have graduated, but at that time Johnson was dean of the graduate school. He would not have signed Howard’s diploma.

According to ABC7, a college degree is not required to run for a House seat in Florida, but Howard states on her campaign website that she completed her degree.

Anthony Pedicini, Howard’s campaign consultant, told ABC7 in a statement that “Melissa Howard is helping her husband recover from a cardiac event which occurred last night. We won’t be responding to allegations and fake news until he fully recovers.”

Some Florida Republicans are calling for Howard to resign from the race, according to the Herald-Tribune.

“That’s a very deceptive falsification that she made,” former Manatee County GOP Chair Donna Hayes said. “It makes the Republican Party look very loose and look like they have no principles.”