Delete, delete, delete. If only solving problems were as easy as deleting controversial Facebook posts.
Republican Florida House candidate Melissa Howard is caught up in a bizarre scandal in which she appears to have faked a diploma from Miami University in Ohio after being called out by a local conservative news site for allegedly lying about her college education.
FLA News Online originally reported Tuesday that Howard didn’t obtain a degree from the university as she has claimed on her campaign’s website, on social media, and in statements to media outlets. FLA News Online published a retraction after Howard flew to Ohio and then posted a photo of her degree in a nice, big frame. She also shared the photo with several news organizations.
Here’s the photo:
That prompted Miami University general counsel Robin Parker to email the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to declare that, no, Howard had not actually graduated.
“Melissa Marie Fox, DOB 12/25/71, does not have a degree from Miami University,” Parker wrote, referring to Howard’s maiden name, according to the newspaper.
FLA News Online then retracted its retraction and confirmed its original reporting, based on information obtained from the National Student Clearinghouse, which partners with Miami University.
“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,” Parker added. “We have no such record of a degree.”
The university doesn’t even offer a degree in marketing, and the signatures on the diploma were from university officials who wouldn’t have been the appropriate people to sign it, according to Parker.
A campaign consultant told the Herald-Tribune that her husband had a “cardiac event” on Friday and was in the hospital—hence, there would be no reaction to this latest news for the moment. Since then, Howard seems to have deleted not only Facebook posts in which she denied accusations that her college claims were false, but also her entire campaign Facebook account.
As of this writing, her campaign website still states: “The first in her family to attend college, 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.”
Howard’s opponent in the Republican primary for Florida’s 73rd District, Tommy Gregory, told the Herald-Tribune that “voters deserve nothing less than truth and integrity from their elected officials.”
He added: “Unfortunately, it seems that Melissa Howard has failed that test.”