Melissa Howard apologizes for faked degree; Opponents respond

Melissa Howard - Diploma

After a weekend of press surrounding allegations she faked a college degree, Republican state House candidate Melissa Howard issued a public apology for misleading the public.

“I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation. It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone,” she wrote Monday on Facebook.

“I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree.”

But she also made clear she has no intentions of folding up her campaign for House District 73.

“What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on.”

Even if Howard dropped out, it’s too late to get her name off the ballot ahead of the Aug. 28 primary. Vote by mail ballots were sent out a month ago. The seat represents portions of Manatee and Sarasota counties, where about 20,000 Republican votes have already been cast.

Howard faced questions about her academic credentials and flew last week to Miami University in Ohio, posting a photograph of herself with a supposed degree from the school.

But when officials at Miami University saw the photo, they called the integrity of the degree into question, noting it listed wrong titles for faculty and listed a major (Marketing) not offered by the university. The bizarre sequence of events drew national media coverage and calls for Howard to drop out of the race.

She also temporarily took down her Facebook page and Twitter page. Both are online again.

As the scandal unfolded, Howard also had to deal with a family health crisis, as husband, Ian, suffered a cardiac event. He has since been released from Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

Howard, a Lakewood Ranch business woman, is running against Tommy Gregory, a Sarasota attorney, in the Republican primary. The winner of that primary will face Democrat Liv Coleman in the general election.

Gregory, a Sarasota attorney and former JAG officer, said sticking in the race was the wrong thing to do.

“Melissa Howard has lied, broken the law, and been caught red-handed. In the military, she would be discharged dishonorably,” he said.

“Yet instead of withdrawing gracefully, she is doubling down on her deceit even to the detriment of other Republicans. I will be making my case that I have the courage and integrity to fight the establishment and clean up the sort of corrupt behavior represented by Melissa Howard.”

Coleman was anxious to draw a contrast in herself and Howard. The Democrat teaches political science at the University of Tampa, and considers deceiving voters about academic credentials a huge character issue.

“It’s so important that our representatives are role models of honesty and integrity, and that includes how we choose to represent our educational credentials,” she said.

“I offer a strong alternative to what we’ve seen the last few days and I look forward to the general election contest in November because I know voters will want someone who will stand up for the values that they share.”

Party leaders in Sarasota and Manatee counties for the moment have said the decision whether Howard should be the nominee remains with voters. In Tallahassee, state House leadership took a similar approach.

Jose Oliva, the incoming Republican House leader, said voters should have their say. “The Speaker-designate has no comment at this time,” said Oliva spokesman Fred Piccolo. “The voters of each district will determine the Republican nominee.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

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 jacobogles@hotmail.com.


18 comments

  • Michael Shepherd

    August 13, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    If course she meant to mislead people. That’s what a lie is used for. A mistake is forgetting to set your alarm, or missing a doctor’s appointment. I would love for a political candidate to try honesty for once, instead of acting like a preteen who got caught doing something wrong, and hoping to fast talk their way out of punishment. You did the “crime,” Melissa. You’d receive a lot more respect by coming clean. This isn’t Junior high…

    • E Martin

      August 14, 2018 at 3:52 am

      Absolutely her intent was to deceive and mislead people, it’s hilarious that she would try to say otherwise. That diploma that she posted was fabricated so not only did she lie initially about her education but then she tried to prove it with a fake diploma that was produced with fake credentials. Wow, amazing that she thought it wouldn’t be checked on.

    • Eric Miller

      August 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

      What is larger her is to look at all those that stood next to her. You know, like Joe Gruters. Who by the way is taking his Chuck E Cheese Smile and insider parlor games to the voters for a State Senate seat. This kind of political crap has to end. Thank you to the original NEW MEDIA online NEWS group that did their homework.

      …. HER WORDS —> “Then the campaign pushed another story that I didn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree. So, I flew to Ohio went back to my alma mater, picked up my transcripts and helped my mom find my diploma. Again proving Tommy Gregory’s entire campaign is built on lies,” Howard said……

      And now she will lead by example the rest of the time ? HA ! Sit down and say some Hail Mary’s will ya.

      • Eric Miller

        August 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

        Chad Brocksworth did some homework and discovered this. Can someone explain how the previous owner of their 1.6 million dollar home paid 21K per annum and they pay nothing? Nice trick – how do we do it?

        Do a search for Parcel ID 588806409 at https://www.manateepao.com/ManateeFL/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=parid and then look at Sales (#2 of 5) to see the $1.6M sale to Ian Howard in 2014. Then search for that Property ID at https://secure.taxcollector.com/ptaxweb/editPropertySearch2.action?action=list . The people they bought the property from paid $21,400 tax in 2014. The Howards have a full tax exemption, listed as “Total Perm Dis Veteran”

        • Eric Miller

          August 14, 2018 at 11:13 am

          OK – So Hubby is the VET – a NAVY boy he says. The ad velorum benefit he receives on the property is eligible to total disability vets. PERIOD – here is a little about hubby

          According to his Facebook page, Ian Howard previously served in the Navy. He does not specify exactly when. But he has apparently remained physically active ever since his Navy experience. His Facebook page also states that he is trained in Kick Boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Amazon page for his book Gotta Live lists other professional ventures including professional wrestling manager, fitness consultant and actor.

          TOTAL DISABILITY – will somebody please knock on their door with a couple warrants please.

    • Eric Miller

      August 14, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Is he or her husband a totally disabled Vet? Their 21k tax exemption on their 1.6 million dollar home shows as 0$ property tax – status lorida law provides additional property tax relief for residents who have served in the United States military.

      A veteran who was honorably discharged from the armed forces and who sustained a “service-connected total and permanent disability” can qualify for exemption from all ad valorem taxes on his or her homesteaded property.

      To qualify the veteran must

      Be a permanent resident of Florida on January 1 of the year that he or she is applying
      Have a homestead exemption
      Have been honorably discharged from the military
      Have sustained a service-connected total and permanent disability
      A veteran applying for the first time must file a Homestead Exemption Application by March 1 and include a letter from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) certifying a Service Connected Total and Permanent disability, or a copy of his or her VA form 27-333 letter that would serve as certification of the disability.

      • Eric Miller

        August 14, 2018 at 9:03 am

        Did she fake that Document too? letter from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) certifying a Service Connected Total and Permanent disability, or a copy of his or her VA form 27-333 letter that would serve as certification of the disability.

        Fair question to ask since she is staying in the race. Ask Joe Gruters. Maybe he knows why?

        • Eric Miller

          August 14, 2018 at 9:04 am

          Maybe a sharp young cub reporter might like to follow that line.

  • E Martin

    August 14, 2018 at 3:53 am

    Absolutely her intent was to deceive and mislead people, it’s hilarious that she would try to say otherwise. That diploma that she posted was fabricated so not only did she lie initially about her education but then she tried to prove it with a fake diploma that was produced with fake credentials. Wow, amazing that she thought it wouldn’t be checked on.

  • Eric Miller

    August 14, 2018 at 7:45 am

    In a previous run up to this, a comment was made that the two of them pay no property tax…. previous owner paid over 21.4k per annum. Who do you have to know to get this one? Beware of who you vote for. The research below was done by another reader on a previous article. (Chad Brocksworth)

    Do a search for Parcel ID 588806409 at https://www.manateepao.com/ManateeFL/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=parid and then look at Sales (#2 of 5) to see the $1.6M sale to Ian Howard in 2014. Then search for that Property ID at https://secure.taxcollector.com/ptaxweb/editPropertySearch2.action?action=list . The people they bought the property from paid $21,400 tax in 2014. The Howards have a full tax exemption, listed as “Total Perm Dis Veteran”

  • Jinxi Rutherford-Richow

    August 14, 2018 at 9:41 am

    The lying, bottle blonde bimbo could start work at Fox Fake News immediately.

    She has all two necessary qualifications :
    1) The Republican, predictably, lies like a crack addict.
    2) Her ‘bottle blondeness’ is perfect for the sexual predator males at Fox Fake News.

    • Eric D. Miller

      August 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Too be fair – let’s be honest – both sides R & D are full of crap. If you are going to excoriate at least act like an adult and make adult comments.

  • Emory

    August 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

    What?,, Wait,, it’s not fake news? I thought she doubled down and said it was fake news..

    She should quit the race, a big percentage of those early ballots im sure wish they could recend after this fiasco.

    Sure,, now she will be honest, how do we know that isn’t a lie?

  • Jule

    August 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Melissa. I am a conservative from Valrico FL. At first glance, you appear as though you fit right into our community. You do not. You purposefully lied and cheated. You can say what you want to spin it but you have been caught and you have sullied the name and image of the Florida Conservatives. Conservatives and our GREAT POTUS have a tough enough time doing daily battle with the press, liberals in general and their violent attacks and politicians lying and cheating to marginalize us. By doing what you did you chose to become part of the problem. Liars cheats and persons of low character are not welcome. Please drop out of the race. You can still have a career in politics, Lord knows that but not this time out. You messed up and we all know it. Go sit down and stuff some envelopes and make lit drops and ferry voters around, you are not ready yet.

    • Fapzilla

      August 15, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Your great potus lies on a daily basis about anything and everything, from adultery and payoffs to porn stars to his dealings with Russian operatives and attacks on political opponents, to bone spurs and draft deferments — and just like Melissa Howard, he cries fake news until he gets caught, time and time again. Hell, MELANIA TRUMP faked an architecture degree and set the example for Melissa Howard. I hope you saved some condemnation for the potus/flotus.

      You really grabbed that irony by the pussy. Good job.

Comments are closed.


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