GOP Florida state House candidate admits to lying about degree, won't drop out of race

Melissa Howard, a GOP candidate running for Florida's state House, says she will not drop out of her race despite being caught lying about receiving her degree from a university in Ohio.

Howard said Monday in a statement obtained by the Herald-Tribune that it was "not [her] intent to deceive or mislead anyone" and she would not drop her GOP primary bid over the controversy.

"I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation," her statement reads. "It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. 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," Howard added.

Her statement follows reports from local media that revealed the GOP candidate had lied about obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Miami University in Ohio, even going as far as to fake a diploma from the school.

Her Republican primary opponent, Tommy Gregory, blasted Howard for characterizing the initial news reports about the fake degree "lies" pushed by Gregory's campaign.

"Instead of providing evidence refuting the direct questions raised in the story, Ms. Howard chose to pivot and attack the Gregory campaign for lying about her record," Gregory said, according to "On the contrary, however, the Tommy Gregory campaign has made no statement of any kind related to the article, and while Ms. Howard may have some explaining to do, we will leave that to her, the media, and the voters of District 73."