Manatee Co. leader Jonathan Bruce first to call on Melissa Howard to drop out, campaign responds


Former Manatee County Commissioner Jonathan Bruce is calling on Republican state House candidate Melissa Howard to drop out of the running in District 73. The move was prompted by accusations Howard lied about graduating from Miami University in Ohio and then faked her diploma.

Jonathan Bruce

“What a sad day for integrity in local politics,” Bruce said. “A really unreal turn of events. Melissa Howard should leave the race now.”

Anthoni Pedicini, a consultant for Howard, noted Bruce already endorsed Tommy Gregory, the other Republican running for state House in District 73. “Of course he would say she should resign,” Pedicini said.

He said Howard was busy caring for her husband, who is on bed rest after a cardiac event. “We’re not dealing with fake news today,” Pedicini said. “Bruce is a career politician who is part of the establishment. He probably was an anti-Trump guy too.”

Bruce, who served on the Manatee County Commission from 1996 through 2004, earlier this week sent an email to local media calling Howard’s education credentials into question after reported she had not actually graduated from the Ohio school, despite saying she had in her official candidate bio.

“At first she says she graduated then forgot she didn’t only to then say she did at a later date?,” Bruce said Wednesday. “This seems to be a ‘deer in the headlights moment’ for her campaign. Her integrity is now on the line.

“She can fix this immediately by producing a transcript or a diploma. If this is not done in the next 24 hours then it will be obvious that something is seriously flawed with her candidacy and she should drop out of the race. We need the highest level of honestly representing us in Tallahassee.”

On Friday, it seemed she had. With mainstream media outlets calling but still passing on the story, Howard flew to Ohio and on Facebook produced pictures of herself picking up transcripts from Miami University.

She also shared with media a picture of herself and her mother holding a framed and mounted degree.

But officials with the University say that picture revealed discrepancies. Specifically, it wrongly attributed the dean of graduate studies as the dean of the school of business and the school of education, and it improperly identified a major in marketing rather than in business, as a proper college degree from the school would state.

Gregory declined to comment further on the events as today. So did Liv Coleman, the lone Democrat running for the seat.

Party leaders so far have stayed out of the fray as well. JoAnne DeVries, chair for the Sarasota Democratic Party, said “Republican voters will make the choice that is best for them.”

Jack Brill, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota, said the party had no comment for the moment. “We look forward to supporting our nominee after the primary is over,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at


  • chris

    August 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Melissa Howard represents all that is disingenuous, unethical and vile about trump and the republican party today. Howard owes voters an apology. Shameful.

  • Skeptical of Politians

    August 11, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Has ANYONE seen a copy of the citation for the Bronze Star that Ron DeSantis earned in Iraq? Not accusing, just odd that it’s nowhere to be found? Maybe someone should ask him to produce it, just to be sure?

  • Jimbo James

    August 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    “…integrity in local politics…”
    Really? As if there has ever been any integrity or morality in ANY politics… ever!
    Republican and Democrats, conservatives and liberals… ALL politicians are dirty, all work to their own agendas, not the peoples. And you’re a fool if you think otherwise.

  • giantslor

    August 12, 2018 at 1:50 am

    It used to be that a politician would drop out of the race immediately after news like this. But they’ve learned from Trump to just say, “fake news,” deny everything, and never apologize or show responsibility. It’s a sad state of affairs we’ve come to.

  • Nicolas

    August 12, 2018 at 2:40 am

    Integrity in local politics. Hoot of the day

  • Dante Stallworth

    August 12, 2018 at 7:26 am

    We should commend the University’s General Counsel for disclosing the truth without significant prompting or legal obligation. That shows character, and it’s what we should demand from our elected officials. If Melissa Howard really wanted to make America Great Again – she’d apologize to her supporters and community, and suspend her campaign. Unfortunately, as a self proclaimed Trump Republican, she’ll likely dig in against imagined enemies and continue to attack until the bitter end.

  • sean

    August 12, 2018 at 7:53 am

    She’s just following in Trump’s worldview footsteps.

  • Louis Cypher

    August 12, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Facebook and Twitter are down but her campaign page with the donation button are still working

  • Louis Cypher

    August 12, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Here’s her campaigns phone number if anyone would like to ask her to drop out directly, 941 587 816y

    • Louis Cypher

      August 12, 2018 at 9:47 am

      941 587 8166

Comments are closed.


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