SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - State House District 73 candidate Melissa Howard, facing accusations that she lied about having a degree from Miami University (Ohio), may have crafted a fake degree according to a representative with the University.
On Tuesday, political news website FLA News Online reported that while Howard attended Miami University from 1990-1994 the school had no record of her graduation.
Later in the week, Howard turned to social media to defend herself, posting a picture of a Miami University transcript and a photo of her and her mother posing with a degree (The image of the degree has since been deleted from Facebook).
According to a representative from Miami University, the degree may have been faked.
In an email sent to ABC7, Miami University counsel raised several issues with Howard's "degree."
University counsel confirmed that Melissa Marie Fox (Howard's maiden name) attended Miami University from Aug. 1990 through May 1994, but the university has no record of her completing her degree.
The email continued stating, "The picture of the diploma that was posted on the HowardforHouse73 Facebook page does not appear to be an accurate Miami University diploma."
"The picture of the diploma shows that Melissa Marie Fox received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree from Miami University on December 20, 1996," the university counsel said, "Miami University's degree for Marketing majors then, as it is now, was a Bachelor of Science in Business."
According to University records, Howard's major field of study while enrolled was Retailing and a degree from that program of study was a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences.
A college degree is not a requirement to run for a Florida State House seat, according to the Florida Department of State, but Howard states on her campaign website that she completed her degree.
ABC7 reached out to Howard for comment and received a statement from her campaign consultant Anthony Pedicini.
"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," the statement said.
Howard is running against Sarasota attorney Tommy Gregory in the Republican primary for District 73, which covers eastern Manatee County and a portion of eastern Sarasota County.
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