Florida House candidate accused of lying about education, forging diploma

University says Melissa Howard never graduated

SARASOTA, Fla. - A candidate for the Florida Legislature is being accused of lying about graduating from college and using a fake diploma.

Miami University in Ohio told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Florida House candidate Melissa Howard attended the school but never graduated. The school also says the diploma she produced is counterfeit, saying it doesn't match those issued in 1994.

The Republican businesswoman is running in the Aug. 28 primary. Her educational background was first questioned last week by the website Florida News Online. She called the accusation false and said she went to Ohio to get the diploma at her mother's house. After she posted a photo of the diploma, the website took down its story, but the university then said her claim was false.

News 6 sister station WPLG reports that the diploma contain factual inconsistencies, including the fact that the degree program listed does not exist at Miami University. The school offers a bachelor of science degree in business, not the bachelor of science degree in marketing displayed on the diploma.

The photographed diploma also includes a signature of Robert Johnson, the then-dean of the graduate school, not of the school of business.

Miami University General Counsel Robin Parker later confirmed to online political news outlet FLA News that Howard attended the university, but did not graduate from the school.

Howard did not answer a call Sunday from The Associated Press.

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