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She Vowed to Stay in the Race. Her 'Diploma' Did Her In

Melissa Howard says she's dropping out of state House of Representatives race
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2018 7:03 AM CDT
In this July 17, 2018, photo, Melissa Howard meets with voters in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.   (Phil Diederich/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – She had vowed to keep fighting for a House seat in Florida, but Melissa Howard says she's now out. "I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race," she texted the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Tuesday. Howard, 46, had said she'd keep vying for a seat in the state's 73rd House District, even after it was revealed the diploma she produced from Ohio's Miami University was fake. The degree on the diploma doesn't match what the college offers among other problems, and CNN notes that her website bio has now been scrubbed of references to her college attendance.

A rep from the Florida Department of State tells the Washington Post the department hasn't yet received a withdrawal notice from Howard, though on Tuesday she'd told the Herald-Tribune she'd make it official "today." Forging a diploma to misrepresent one's academic standing is a misdemeanor in Florida and could result in a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, though a Miami University spokeswoman tells the Post the college doesn't intend to go after Howard. "I made a terrible error in judgement [sic]," Howard wrote to the Herald-Tribune. "I am thankful for everyone who gave so much toward my success, and I am deeply sorry." (Read more GOP candidates stories.)

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