GOP chairman says no plans to rescind Royce White endorsement for US Senate

GOP chairman says no plans to rescind Royce White endorsement for US Senate

GOP chairman says no plans to rescind Royce White endorsement for US Senate

Shortly after Royce White received the endorsement for U.S. Senate on the first ballot at the Minnesota Republican Party State Convention, stories emerged about campaign finance issues and civil court actions regarding unpaid child support, orders for protection and unpaid business debts.

Still, Republican Party Chairman David Hann says no party members have approached him about rescinding White’s endorsement.

“If you say, ‘Let’s get the Republican candidate for Senate out of Central Casting,’ you don’t pick Royce White, that is true,” Hann told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in his first interview since White’s endorsement. “He’s an unusual candidate. There’s no question about it.”

But Hann says despite a controversial background, White remains the endorsed candidate because no one has asked to rescind his endorsement and the party doesn’t even have a mechanism to do that.

“He’s a very engaging guy and he’s very committed to winning votes in areas that Republicans traditionally have not done well,” Hann says. “I think we have to give him the opportunity to make the case. He’s the first African American for Senate Minnesota has had and he’s a Republican. That’s a very good thing, and we’re going to try to work with him and see what we can do.”

The latest controversy surfaced in the Daily Beast, highlighting potentially improper and even illegal campaign spending in White’s 2022 run to be the Republican nominee for the 5th Congressional District. According to the Federal Election Commission report filed by White’s campaign, he spent thousands of dollars on luxury hotels in Georgia, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin, thousands more on limousines, and $1,200 at a strip club in Miami.

This week, White posted a receipt on X, formerly Twitter, for one of the limousines to show it wasn’t just a “joy ride.” It was $1,697.54 for a six-and-a-half-hour limo ride from the JW Marriott in Tampa, Florida, to the Omni Hotel in Atlanta.

Hann says he and White discussed questions about the campaign finance report.

“As I’ve been told some of those things were maybe not filed appropriately by whoever prepared that report for him,” Hann told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “As a candidate you have to take responsibility for all of that.”

When asked how he could explain the $1,200 at a Miami strip club two weeks after his primary campaign ended with a loss in early August of 2022, Hann said he doesn’t have all the answers.

“I don’t know the answer to that. I think he doesn’t deny he was there but he has a reason for it,” Hann said. “I think that has to be cleared up in his filing, and I’ve asked him for that, and he said he would do that.”

When asked for his response to the 2022 campaign finance report, White texted on Wednesday afternoon, saying, “After reviewing (the campaign finance report) there were clear errors and missing information or wrong information. We can’t wait to see if the media retractions make the front page.” Media reports have only outlined what his campaign reported to the FEC.

On the fundraising side of the 2022 campaign, White raised $390,000, with about $204,000 “unitemized” and $186,000 itemized. The FEC doesn’t require contributions under $200 to be itemized. Of the $186,000 that was itemized, only $13,000 was donated by Minnesotans while nearly $173,000 came from donors in other states.

“It will be an interesting effort in terms of how they remake or reclassify some of these expenditures and explain why they spent the money that they did,” says David Schultz of Hamline University, a law professor and campaign finance expert.

Schultz says if some of the campaign expenses are not explained satisfactorily it could lead to FEC fines and maybe even criminal charges.

“The pattern looks like the money was being disbursed not for campaign-related purposes, but the pattern that I’m seeing here looks like they were expended for personal purposes, which is completely illegal under federal election law,” Schultz said.

Hann says White told him an amended report will be filed in the next week or so with the FEC.