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GOP candidate admits faking college degree

Melissa Howard, a Florida State House candidate, has dropped out after admitting she faked a college degree from Miami University in Ohio.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 2:56 PM
Updated: Aug 15, 2018 3:27 PM

Melissa Howard, a Florida state house candidate, told CNN on Tuesday that she has suspended her campaign.

Howard came under fire after posting a picture of a diploma from Miami University in Ohio, although the school said she did not receive a degree there.

She officially suspended her campaign on Tuesday, although the day before, she had vowed to stay in the race in a Facebook post that has since been taken down.

"I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race. I will do so today," Howard said in a statement to CNN affiliate WWSB.

Howard, a Republican candidate who sought to represent District 73 in the Florida House of Representatives, vowed to continue serving her community and apologized in the statement.

"I made a terrible error in judgment. I am thankful for everyone who gave me so much toward my success, and I am deeply sorry," according to her statement to WWSB.

On Monday, a post had appeared on Facebook in which Howard apologized for what she called a "mistake saying that I completed my degree." That post was later taken down.

"I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation," said the Monday post. "It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on."

Last week, FLA News reported that Howard, 46, did not have a degree from Miami University as she said she did in her candidate bio. The story was later briefly rescinded after Howard's campaign responded to the story in a statement and Howard posted a partial college transcript, as well as pictures of her posing with a framed diploma on her Facebook page.

The images were no longer available.

Miami University told CNN and other news outlets it has no record of Howard earning a degree there. The school said Melissa Marie Fox (Howard's maiden name) had attended Miami University from August 1990 to May 1994, but she did not graduate.

The university pointed out a few critical flaws on the image of the diploma that Howard briefly posted on social media.

The document in the image showed she received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, but the university said it has no such record of a degree. School officials said the university's degree for marketing majors, both then and now, is called a Bachelor of Science in Business.

Also, Howard's major while she was enrolled at Miami University was retailing, and the degree for that program would have been a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, according to the university.

The picture of the diploma included the signatures of James Garland, who was the president of the university in 1996, and of Robert C. Johnson, who was the dean of the graduate school, which would not have been the proper school, the university statement said.

The university counsel said in a statement to CNN that the document in the photo "does not appear to be an accurate Miami University diploma."

Howard's campaign consultant, Anthony Pedicini, had told the Washington Post over the weekend that Howard's husband had been hospitalized Friday night after suffering cardiac arrest. She is "focused on him right now," he said then, and not on "fake news."

In her website bio, Howard had said she was the first in her family to attend college and that "she waited tables at Ponderosa and saved enough from summer jobs to complete her education. Upon graduation she worked for large (Marriott and Microsoft) and small companies before launching her own marketing business that today serves clients throughout the world."

Those sentences are no longer posted on her website.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312712

Reported Deaths: 7223
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21445257
Hinds20264414
Harrison17785308
Rankin13548278
Jackson13401246
Madison10055217
Lee9959173
Jones8361163
Forrest7638152
Lauderdale7191240
Lowndes6361144
Lamar620686
Lafayette6164118
Washington5318133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460698
Panola4550105
Pearl River4493145
Marshall4393103
Warren4371121
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408876
Neshoba4022176
Lincoln3944110
Hancock376886
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335590
Tate332084
Pike3290105
Scott314973
Alcorn311268
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299277
Copiah296065
Coahoma293979
Simpson293888
Tippah287468
Prentiss278960
Marion268780
Leake265573
Wayne262241
Adams261882
Grenada260085
Covington256281
George246748
Newton246161
Winston226881
Tishomingo225467
Jasper220748
Attala214173
Chickasaw206957
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181833
Clarke177879
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169732
Yalobusha162936
Smith162134
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125838
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102230
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95328
Franklin83423
Quitman79916
Choctaw76018
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 529446

Reported Deaths: 10930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763031516
Mobile40850804
Madison34622501
Tuscaloosa25701451
Montgomery24289585
Shelby23367247
Baldwin21035307
Lee15822169
Calhoun14469313
Morgan14266279
Etowah13806352
Marshall12185222
Houston10533280
Elmore10029205
Limestone9948150
Cullman9640193
St. Clair9589239
Lauderdale9407239
DeKalb8814185
Talladega8199175
Walker7214277
Autauga6914108
Jackson6801111
Blount6635136
Colbert6288134
Coffee5498117
Dale4820111
Russell438438
Chilton4258111
Franklin424782
Covington4111117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia393076
Chambers3555123
Dallas3543151
Clarke350661
Marion3105100
Pike310177
Lawrence299798
Winston273672
Bibb260463
Marengo249064
Geneva247676
Pickens233659
Barbour230756
Hale222276
Butler215869
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184145
Randolph179241
Monroe177040
Washington167039
Macon158850
Clay155156
Crenshaw151957
Cleburne148341
Lamar141534
Lowndes138553
Wilcox126729
Bullock122941
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa106928
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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