On June 11, 2020, Conservative Firing Line reported how Hernando County Commissioner Steve Champion — who is currently running for re-election — “has a racist/anger management problem.” A subsequent article, published July 29, exposed how the “thin-skinned county commissioner” threw a “social media tantrum” after discovering the Hernando County Association of Realtors endorsed his opponent, Kevin Hohn. Conservative Firing Line has now uncovered an apparent discrepancy, which begs the question: Did County Commissioner Steve Champion lie about his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration?
On his official Hernando County Government page, Champion declares he “graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School and earned a bachelor’s in business administration at Hamilton College.”
However, a background check (conducted through Instant Checkmate) shows Champion studied business administration at Broward County Community College from January 1, 1993 to December 31, 1996 and obtained his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from Hamilton University. Champion never mentions attending Broward County Community College on his official Hernando County government profile.
The difference between Hamilton College and Hamilton University could not be more stark.
Hamilton University,” which has no website of its own and is referenced only by Wikipedia, “was an unaccredited institution based in Evanston, Wyoming.”
“According to the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization Hamilton University was initially established in Hawaii under the name American State University. It has since been closed by court order in Wyoming and relocated to the Bahamas under the name Richardson University.
In 2005, The Associated Press confirmed the “unlicensed online school appears to live on as Richardson University.”
Wyoming State Rep. Jeff Wasserburger, R-Gillette — a member of the House Education Commission — said Hamilton consisted only of two secretaries who “typed up” diplomas.
“For $4,000,” he said, “you could buy any degree that you wanted.”
“Since it had no real students and no faculty and was housed in buildings which had once been a Motel 6, Hamilton was widely thought to be a diploma mill. The school issued degrees based on ‘life experiences.’ Candidates for a degree were required to answer a few questions and write a small project of 2,000 words (about seven typed pages). The school issued Bachelor’s, Master’s, and even PhDs. The presence of a small church built in the parking lot had served to make the activity tax free due to federal and state laws, even though the church building had no pews; people in Evanston had never seen services there.”
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Conservative Firing Line contacted Hamilton College registrar’s office by email to verify directly whether or not Champion ever attended the institution. The response email – received July 30, at 10:50 AM — stated they, in fact. “did not receive the name of the student.”
“However,” the representative from Hamilton College registrar’s office clarified further, “we can tell you that Hamilton College is a liberal arts college and offers Bachelor of Arts degrees and does not offer Business Administration. Most likely the individual did attend a different Hamilton.”
With the August 18 Primary Election just over two weeks away, it is important to address the question: Did County Commissioner Steve Champion lie about his bachelor’s degree? Lying about ones academic achievements can have dire consequences, particularly for those seeking government office.
As disclosed by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs website on July 16, 2003 “Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the use of ‘diploma mill’ degrees to obtain positions and promotions with the federal government and whether those degrees were paid for with federal funds.”
The investigation was spurred in part by news that Laura Callahan, former senior director in the Homeland Security Department’s CIO office, also obtained her degrees — a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate — from the same institution Champion appears to have obtained his degree in business administration — Hamilton University.
Callahan resigned March 26, 2004.
November 18, 2019, Market Watch reported that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict Stability Operations, resigned after it was discovered she had embellished her educational record.
“Resigning,” Chang wrote in her November 18, 2019 letter of resignation to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “is the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time.”
According to Florida Statute Chapter 817.566:
Any person who, with intent to defraud, misrepresents his or her association with, or academic standing or other progress 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; or any person who causes or procures such a misrepresentation; or any person who utters and publishes or otherwise represents such a document, degree, certificate, diploma, award, record, letter, transcript, form, or other paper as true, knowing it to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree…”
The second of two emails sent to Champion — offering an opportunity to provide clarification regarding the discrepancy of where he obtained his degree — received the following response:
“Your (sic) put on notice. If you publish anything inaccurate I will sue you. I never said my degree was from Hamilton in New York. I have transcripts for my degree which was obtained almost 20 years ago. I do not have to prove myself to you or any of your cronies.”