After a failed run for Congress in Minnesota two years ago, Royce White's fading campaign spent more than $1,200 in leftover funds at a full-nude strip club in Miami and more than $4,000 on limousine services in Florida and Georgia.

That wasn't all the Republican's campaign spent after he lost an early August primary election for Minnesota's Fifth District. White's campaign shelled out thousands more at high-end hotels in Tennessee and Georgia, and $970 at a Wisconsin Dells resort, according to his public federal campaign finance records.

Throughout 2022, White's campaign spent more than $100,000 on unexplained wire transfers and checks, his reports show. The campaign spent thousands of dollars at a Best Buy in Texas and more than $3,000 at local Guitar Center stores, among dozens of other transactions in several states at restaurants, retailers and hotels.

White's past is facing more scrutiny since he unexpectedly won the Republican Party of Minnesota's endorsement to run for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar this fall. It's unclear if the party or the delegates who backed White knew of his previous campaign's expenditures, which three campaign finance experts interviewed by the Star Tribune described as possibly criminal. It's illegal to use campaign funds for personal use.

In an interview Friday, White defended his previous campaign and its transactions, saying they were "very modest."

"Which charges are considered extravagant? Was it extravagant for Black Lives Matter to buy mansions? Was that extravagant? Is it extravagant for Ilhan Omar to have paid her own spouse $500,000 out of her campaign? Is that extravagant?" White said. "My campaign only raised $500,000 total, and I guarantee you, we didn't spend it all at Bed Bath and Beyond."

Campaign finance experts say that White's 2022 campaign transactions are highly unusual.

"This is one of the wildest ones I've ever reviewed," said Jordan Libowitz, spokesperson for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Libowitz said his group is looking into the spending now, first reported by the Daily Beast, and others likely are, too.

"There's a hard and fast rule that campaign spending has to be directly for the campaign," Libowitz said. "When you see people get in real trouble — I don't mean a $2,000 fine from the FEC, I mean, go to jail trouble, get arrested, get prosecuted by the DOJ trouble, have the FBI looking through everything you've done trouble — it's for personal use of campaign funds."

Libowitz said campaign accounts sometimes remain open after the campaign has ended. If a candidate has remaining cash, they can use it to pay for general expenses, including paying staff, rent and cable bills. They can also keep raising money to pay off debt.

"We don't see just continued spending and spending in lots of places," he said. "That raises a pretty big issue even if it weren't things that would be very hard to justify on their own, like, say, a Florida strip club."

Any personal use of campaign money gives authorities the ability to make a "clear case" against a candidate, he said. Libowitz says White's spending may have flown under the radar because he was a "long shot candidate in a long shot primary" and "too small to be on the FEC's radar at the time."

White was once a professional basketball player and Black Lives Matter protester. During an April 2021 protest outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department after the death of Daunte Wright, White urged the crowd to storm a fence barricading the department.

He's since gained popularity in conservative circles, becoming a regular guest on ex-Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon's online shows. At last week's GOP state convention, Bannon delivered a video address introducing White to delegates.

Brett Kappel, a Washington-based attorney and national expert on campaign finance law, said it's "hard to imagine any of those post-election expenditures being campaign-related, although it's possible that some of these events were fundraising events to pay off debts."

Kappel said he hadn't seen a strip club appear on a campaign finance report since the 1980s, and that he "would be astonished if both Federal Election Commission and criminal complaints aren't filed against [White] personally."

"It's equal to or exceeds George Santos levels of abusing campaign finance rules," Kappel said, referring to the GOP representative who was expelled from Congress this year.

Minnesota GOP Party Chair David Hann did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Anna Mathews, the party's spokeswoman and executive director.

Spending the FEC deems "automatic personal use" includes clothing and entertainment. However, there are some exceptions if the clothing and entertainment are for official campaign use. A candidate can spend on travel as long as it's "directly connected to the office holder's bona fide official responsibilities."

A spokesperson for the FEC said it cannot comment on specific candidates or committees.

White said people involved with his past race and current run for Senate will "lend their accounting services to reconcile that campaign."

"We're very confident that there's nothing nefarious or scandalous that is going on there. Hotels? Campaign expenditure. Ground transportation? Campaign expenditure," White said. "We wire-transferred videographers and people who did content for the campaign, and we wrote checks to people who did services for the campaign."

White added that he wasn't responsible for the campaign finance filing, but "those are things we feel comfortable going back and figuring out."

Asked about the money spent at the Gold Rush Cabaret strip club in Miami, White said, "I don't necessarily recall that ... but I'm sure it's probably somebody just using the wrong card in their wallet."

White claimed he may have paid a fine to the FEC for the expense. He was hit with an FEC fine totaling nearly $8,000, which records show he paid last year.

White provided a different explanation to the Daily Beast, claiming the strip club was a legitimate expense because he had done what he described as a campaign-related podcast in Florida. "I like the food there," he said of the club.