GOP Sen. Candidate Royce White Accused of ‘Outrageous’ Illegal Spending

GOP Sen. Candidate Royce White Accused of ‘Outrageous’ Illegal Spending

A new complaint targets “outrageous” campaign spending by Republican senatorial candidate Royce White, arguing that his old campaign’s opaque reports and rampant splurges on a range of indulgences—including a $1,200 night at a Miami strip club—add up to a “wholesale failure” to follow the law and an attempt to cover it up.

The complaint, which the nonpartisan nonprofit Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), comes after The Daily Beast revealed that White—the Minnesota Republican Party’s officially endorsed Senate candidate—appears to have illegally spent tens of thousands of dollars in donations to his failed 2022 congressional campaign.

CLC also alleges that the campaign’s reports habitually violated disclosure requirements, omitting the recipients of large wire transfers and checks. The complaint extends those reporting allegations to White’s current Senate campaign, which to date has reported just one payment.

Saurav Ghosh, director of federal reform at CLC, castigated White’s spending.

“Transparency about how candidates are spending their campaign funds allows voters to make informed choices when voting, and helps ensure that candidates are held accountable if they unlawfully use donors’ money to pay for their personal expenses,” Ghosh said.

“Royce White appears to have brazenly violated the federal laws that foster transparency and accountability in our elections, by first using his 2022 campaign’s account to pay for personal expenses—including clothing, fitness, and entertainment charges, along with siphoning off a six-figure sum through checks and wire transfers—and then wholly failing to report his 2024 Senate campaign’s disbursements.

“It is imperative that the FEC investigate these apparent violations of the campaign finance laws that safeguard our elections from financial malfeasance.”

As The Daily Beast reported in May, in just eight months White’s 2022 congressional campaign racked up eye-popping, seemingly personal expenses that campaign finance experts described as potentially criminal.

That campaign lasted six months, with more than $32,000 of expenses coming after White lost the primary. Much of the campaign’s spending before and after that election aligns with the travel schedule for a professional three-on-three basketball tournament. White, a first-round NBA draft pick who left the league in protest of inadequate mental health support, competed in that tournament while on the 2022 ballot. His coach in that tournament gave his campaign the maximum sum allowed, $2,900. The league’s co-founder, Jeff Kwatinetz, contributed $11,600, but the campaign never refunded the excessive $8,700, as required by law.

Last month, White won the Minnesota GOP’s endorsement in a landslide. If he wins the August primary, he will go on to face Democratic incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

In 2022, White was a longshot outsider against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The CLC complaint identifies more than $157,000 in potentially impermissible expenses incurred over White’s brief candidacy, including several large wire transfers and checks with no listed recipient or purpose.

A table included with the complaint breaks down some of the spending, listing roughly $9,000 at retail shops, more than $8,300 at Best Buy, $5,100 for limo and private car services, more than $3,300 at Guitar Center, $1,900 at LifeTime Fitness, $250 at Epic Water Park in Grand Prairie, TX, and nearly $5,500 at various nightspots including the $1,200 night at Miami’s all-nude Gold Rush Cabaret strip club.

The law considers campaign expenses as personal if donor funds are used for costs “that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office.”

Some of White’s expenses, CLC says, appear illegal “even without more information” about their purpose.

The law, CLC notes, flatly prohibits campaign expenses for “household food items,” “clothing, other than items of de minimis value that are used in the campaign,” and “admission to a sporting event, concert, theater or other form of entertainment, unless part of a specific campaign or officeholder activity.”

The White campaign also reported unexplained disbursements to itself for more than $100,000 in “checks,” “outgoing wire transfers,” and cash withdrawals, which the complaint calls “deeply concerning” and says “strongly indicates an effort to conceal the use of campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.”

CLC views the violations as “knowing and willful,” arguing that White’s previous campaign treasurers “should be held personally liable.” The campaign paid a nearly $8,000 FEC fine for failure to file one report on time. White took over as treasurer in October 2023, and did not file any reports after that. The FEC website shows that the commission administratively terminated the campaign at some point in the last two weeks. As of the time of publishing, no official notice has been posted.

CLC argues that “there is ample indication” that White’s Senate campaign has not disclosed a number of expenses and payments.

“The campaign has a polished website that appears to have been crafted by a professional vendor,” the complaint says, with a disclaimer stating “Paid for by Royce White For Senate.” The same applies for a two-minute video on the site.

The Senate campaign has also solicited and received donations through WinRed, the GOP’s top online fundraising platform. But while the campaign’s one reported payment went to another processor, Anedot, the campaign has not reported any processing payments to WinRed for fundraising services.

“These specific illustrations of the disconnect between White’s Senate campaign’s operations—which is plainly incurring expenses and making payments to advance White’s candidacy—and the wholesale lack of reported disbursements on the campaign’s disclosure reports provide reason to believe White’s 2024 campaign committee has deliberately failed to comply with [The Federal Election Campaign Act’s] basic reporting requirements,” the complaint states.

The complaint also cites White’s sweeping denials to The Daily Beast, saying, “That’s all campaign stuff,” and “[e]very dollar was spent on the campaign for campaign reasons.”

White has also falsely suggested the $8,000 reporting fine was for personal use violations. In a radio appearance last month, he claimed that his campaign had paid back the misspent funds. If they have, they never reported it—another violation.

“These reductive summary statements offer no genuine explanation as to how these numerous payments from the campaign’s account, some of which post-dated the formal end of White’s 2022 candidacy, were bona fide campaign expenditures and not the payment of personal obligations that would have existed irrespective of White’s candidacy,” the complaint argues.

“Indeed, these charges appear to indicate that White was simply enriching himself at his donors’ expense, both before and after losing in the 2022 primary election,” the complaint says.

The Daily Beast

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