GOP Candidate Melissa Howard Drops Out Of Race After Admitting She Faked Diploma

The Florida state House hopeful writes that she "made a terrible error in judgement."

What a difference a day has made for Florida candidate Melissa Howard.

On Monday, Howard was seeking the GOP nomination for an open seat in the Florida House of Representatives, even after she admitted lying about her educational background and faking her diploma.

However, she called it quits on Tuesday, telling the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by email that withdrawing from the 73rd District race was “the right thing to do.”

She wrote: “I made a terrible error in judgement. I am thankful for everyone who gave so much toward my success, and I am deeply sorry.”

Although Howard’s name will still be on the Aug. 28 primary ballot, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner told the paper there will be notes at polling locations and absentee ballots explaining that a vote for Howard will not count.

“It’s still there physically, but we’re not going to be officially tabulating those results anymore,” Turner said.

Sarasota County GOP chairman Joe Gruters thinks Howard made the right decision, according to The Associated Press.

“I think she saved the party and community a lot of heartache,” Gruters said. “I hope she gets the help she needs.”

Howard’s educational background came under scrutiny last week after local news outlets questioned her credentials.

After Howard showcased a questionable degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in a Twitter post on Friday, a spokeswoman for the college told HuffPost that the diploma seen in photos “does not appear to be an accurate Miami University diploma.”

The spokeswoman confirmed that Howard was a student from 1990 to 1994, studying retailing, but that she did not graduate.

Howard’s suspension of her candidacy may not mean the end of her troubles, because she could face criminal charges.

Florida law considers it a misdemeanor to misrepresent one’s association with or status at any postsecondary educational institution “by falsely making, altering, simulating, or forging a document, degree, certificate, diploma, award, record, letter, transcript, form, or other paper.”

Donna Hayes, a former chair of the Manatee GOP, sent a letter Monday to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen and 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Ed Brodsky accusing Howard of committing a crime, according to the Herald-Tribune.

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