In a photo distributed by Melissa Howard, the Republican candidate in Florida shows a diploma she said she earned from Miami University in 1996.

Political candidate accused of faking degree from Miami U. has other ties to Butler County

FIRST REPORT: Candidate accused of lying about graduating from Miami University, faking diploma

Melissa Howard, a candidate for state representative in Florida, is being accused of lying about graduating from Miami University and then producing a fake diploma after a website questioned her about it. 

An article in Florida News Online originally reported that there was no record of Howard’s graduation from Miami University in the National Student Clearinghouse. 

Howard denied the original report. Last week, she said she returned to her parent’s home to supposedly pick up her diploma and request her official transcript from the university. Photos of her posing with the alleged diploma have since been deleted from Howard’s social media accounts after Miami University General Counsel lawyer Robin Parker released a statement saying the degree pictured had major inconsistencies. 

“We have no such record of a degree,” Parker said in the email.

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The degree Howard posted online claims she received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Miami University in 1996. However, Miami records said that she had only attended the school between 1990 and 1994 and that she had majored in retailing at the time. There was also no record of her graduating from Miami.

A background check by the Journal-News found no record of her living in Oxford after 1993. 

After leaving Miami University, Howard lived in multiple places in Chicago, Cincinnati, West Chester Twp. and Sarasota, Fla., before moving to her current address in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

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According to her campaign website, Melissa Howard was born in St. Petersburg and grew up in an apartment in Middletown, which she described as a “blue-collar, manufacturing town where working hard is expected.” 

Howard once registered as a Democrat for a 1996 election in a Hamilton County election, but she has since denied any affiliation with the party. Voter registration records obtained by the Journal-News show Howard registered as either Democrat or non-affiliated during her time in Butler County. She had no declared political party after that until she registered as a Republican in Florida in 2011.

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