Florida House candidate accused of lying about college degree apologizes for 'mistake'


Melissa Howard, the GOP candidate for a Florida state House seat who was accused of lying about her college degree and NRA rating apologized on Monday, pledging to stay in the race “and lead by example from now on.”

After questions arose about Howard’s academic credentials, the state House candidate posted a photo of what she said was a copy of her transcripts to Facebook. She also sent photos of what she said was her diploma to media outlets, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

But Robin Parker, general counsel for Miami University, told the Herald-Tribune that Howard never graduated from the college and questioned the diploma’s authenticity.

On Monday Howard admitted on her Facebook page that she didn’t graduate from the school.

"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 intend to win and lead by example from now on," she said.

Even if she 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 already have been cast.

The Herald-Tribune also reported that Howard posted about an A rating from the National Rifle Association on Facebook; however, Marion Hammer, a former NRA president who now leads the group’s lobbying efforts in Florida, said Howard actually received a B grade.

Howard did not specifically reference the NRA rating controversy in her Monday apology.

Her primary opponent, Tommy Gregory, didn’t immediately comment.

Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matt Richardson is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @MRichardson713.

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