Melissa Howard
Photo provided by Melissa Howard

An Ohio university confirms what FLA News first reported earlier this week, State House candidate Melissa Howard doesn’t have a college degree, despite her claims and in an audacious move it appears Howard faked her diploma.

After FLA News exclusively reported Tuesday that Republican State House candidate Melissa Howard didn’t have the college degree from Miami University in Ohio that she claimed to have earned, Mrs. Howard flew to Ohio Friday to prove our report wrong.

She posted a picture of a partial college transcript on her Facebook page and then later that day posted a picture of her sitting with her mother and holding a copy of a diploma. 

There is, however, one problem – the degree is a fraud, Miami University General Counsel Robin Parker has confirmed to FLA News.

Melissa Howard Faked Degree
Photo from Melissa Howard

Not only were Howard’s friends and supporters looking at the picture she posted on Facebook, so were officials at Miami University. Sometime during the afternoon Friday, Howard removed the diploma pictures from Facebook as her story of earning a Bachelor of Science in Marketing began to unravel.

According to Miami University, Howard did attend but there is no record of her earning a degree either in 1994, which she initially claimed, or in 1996, which she later claimed.

The degree Howard was holding in the picture contains inconsistencies, according to the university’s general counsel.

Miami University does not offer a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, instead it offers a Bachelor of Science in Business. Howard’s major while attending Miami University was Retailing and if she had graduated would have received a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences.

The diploma Howard is holding contains the signatures of James C. Garland, President and Robert C. Johnson, Dean. Mr. Garland was President of Miami University in 1996, but Mr. Johnson was dean of the graduate school not the dean for either the School of Business nor the School of Education and Allied Professions. Johnson would not have signed Howard’s diploma.

FLA News first reported that a non-profit clearinghouse that partners with Miami University maintains Howard did not have a degree. Academic records are easily searched on the National Student Clearinghouse website. The non-profit organization partners with universities and colleges to allow for verification of academic degrees. Miami University calls the clearinghouse its “authorized agent for providing degree verification for graduates…”

After Mrs. Howard pushed back on our reporting – calling it a lie, we asked the National Student Clearinghouse to re-confirm with the university.

The organization sent a certificate stating – no degree earned. FLA News asked Howard for a copy of her diploma, which she promised to send last Saturday. Then it was Monday and finally Tuesday. FLA News published its story Tuesday afternoon and it contained a statement from the Howard campaign calling the assertion a dirty trick from her GOP opponent, Tommy Gregory in House District 73 which includes Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Howard’s campaign consultant notified us Thursday that she was flying to her home state of Ohio and would produce the degree Friday. After receiving a picture showing Howard holding a copy of what appeared to be a legitimate degree, FLA News rescinded its story. Based on information learned Friday, that correction was withdrawn.

The Howard campaign continues to decline comment on the FLA News story other than a Saturday morning statement which said “Ian Howard (Howard’s husband) suffered a cardiac event last night (Friday). The statement added, “Melissa is focused on her family – not fake news this morning.”  Howard’s husband has since been released from the hospital.

With nearly two weeks before the August 28 Republican Primary, Howard’s future in the House District 73 race is still unknown. Sources tell us she is considering an exit from the race. This story has received national media attention since FLA News first reported the story Saturday morning. The intense scrutiny she is under would make it difficult to stay in this race.

David Bishop is a native Floridian, husband and father. During his 30 year career, David has been a journalist, political operative and communications consultant.