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University says GOP Florida House candidate faked her diploma: report

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School officials said a Republican candidate running for the GOP nomination in a Florida legislative seat lied about graduating from Miami University and faked her diploma, according to a new report.

Melissa Howard, who wants a Sarasota-area state House seat, claimed that she earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the Ohio school.

Florida political news website FLA News Online originally reported that Howard did not earn the degree, but briefly retracted their story after Howard provided a photo posing with a copy of her diploma.

But after further investigation and confirmation with the university, FLA News reported Saturday that the diploma was fake.

Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune confirmed with the university that Howard did not graduate.

Miami University General Counsel Robin Parker told the outlets that while Howard attended the university, there is no record of her earning a degree in 1994 or 1996, as she previously claimed.

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The school also reportedly said that they do not offer a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, and that Howard would have earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences if she had graduated with her Retailing major.

The diploma in the photo also reportedly displays signatures of university officials who would not have signed a diploma for a student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in that year.

National Student Clearinghouse, the non-profit group that works with Miami University and originally claimed Howard did not earn her degree, sent FLA News a certificate from the university stating that Howard did not earn a degree.

Howard has not commented on the new report to FLA News. She called the original allegations “lies” pushed by her Republican primary opponent, Tommy Gregory, in the race for a seat long held by the GOP.

“Instead of providing evidence refuting the direct questions raised in the story, Ms. Howard chose to pivot and attack the Gregory campaign for lying about her record,” Gregory said in a response, according to FloridaPolitics.com. “On the contrary, however, the Tommy Gregory campaign has made no statement of any kind related to the article, and while Ms. Howard may have some explaining to do, we will leave that to her, the media, and the voters of District 73.”

-Updated 1:08 p.m.

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