The life of a politician is one which many do no envy considering the constant public scrutiny that they receive. While one might think that such extensive media coverage would hold said individuals accountable for their actions, corrupt politicians continue to surface. Such recently occurred in Florida where a state House candidate was discovered to have made a very significant ‘mistake’ in lying about her educational achievements and rating with the National Rifle Association.
Unsurprisingly, she has since apologized and pledged to “lead by example from now on” in her continuing effort to run for office. Even more disturbing, given the timing, there would have been no way for her to drop out of the race even if she opted to. Naturally, the recent news has many wondering how the candidate was able to get away with the lie until now.
On Monday, it was finally discovered that both were lies: Howard did not, in fact, obtain her bachelor’s degree from Miami University, and she is said to actually have a ‘B grade’ with the NRA.
Initially, it was Howard’s education status that was under scrutiny. Last week, FLA News questioned the claims, prompting her to provide proof.
According to FLA News, Howard “flew to Ohio Friday to prove our report wrong.”
Howard attempted to do so, posting on Facebook “what she said was a copy of her transcripts.” She was also said to have “sent photos of what she said was her diploma to media outlets.” In one of them, Howard and her mother can be seen posing with her claimed diploma.
While her attempt to fool the people briefly worked and FLA News took down the previously published article, the controversy caused the university to take notice and verify that Howard had indeed graduated from the school.
General counsel for Miami University Robin Parker explained how Howard’s lie was discovered given that “the diploma Howard produced doesn’t match those issued in 1994 or 1996, the years she claimed she graduated, or any year.”
There were other inconsistencies including a signature from the incorrect dean whose should have appeared on her diploma.
Also notable, Howard claimed to have earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, yet Parker continued that the university does not offer a solely marketing degree but rather offers a Bachelor of Science in Business degree.
Most importantly, the university apparently has no record of Melissa Marie Fox, her maiden name, having received any such degree from the school. She also fails to appear in the National Student Clearinghouse database.
The education “organization partners with universities and colleges to allow for verification of academic degrees” and according to Miami University, is an “authorized agent for providing degree verification for graduates.”
It, too, confirmed the Howard is not a Miami University alumnae.
Initially, Howard appeared to continually deny the allegations with a spokesperson saying “Ian Howard (Howard’s husband) suffered a cardiac event last night (Friday)” and that “Melissa is focused on her family – not fake news this morning.”
Yet Howard finally came clean about her false education status, and on Monday said via Facebook, “I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intent to win and lead by example from now on.”
Unfortunately, the damage is done, and voters are learning the truth about Howard’s education and her apparent willingness to be dishonest.
Despite claiming to remain in the race, Howard has since been said to have deleted her Facebook account. Her campaign website, howardforhouse.com, now leads to an error message following the recent revelation.
Yet her education status was not the only lie that Howard was found to have told.
Former NRA president Marion Hammer confirmed that Howard has a ‘B’ grade with the pro-gun organization, not an ‘A’ as she stated; however, the reason for the lower grade was not initially revealed.
Yet, possibly the most disturbing aspect to Howard’s dishonesty is that her claims may have caused thousands of Florida residents to vote for her when many may not have given the new information.
Fox News noted that “even if [Howard] dropped out, it’s too late to get her name off the ballot.”
The election is on August 28, and “about 20,000 republican votes [have] already been cast” in Sarasota County and Manatee County.
Howard’s opponent, Republican Tommy Gregory has yet to comment on Howard’s situation, however, had the decency to express his sympathy for the Howard family during the claimed ‘medical trauma.’
It is truly unfortunate to see that such a series of lies occurred within the republican party considering the importance of upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. However, the story does admit that scandals can occur within any political party.
Hopefully, Howard’s situation raises increasing awareness of the necessity of verifying candidate’s claims. More importantly, it should serve as a reminder to other candidates that their every moves are being scrutinized and that any lies they tell are likely to be discovered.