EXCLUSIVE: Land Commissioner George P. Bush calls cancelled housing deal 'potentially criminal'

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is speaking out on the controversial $15 million affordable housing deal canceled by Mayor Sylvester Turner after allegations of deal rigging by whistleblower and former Housing Director Tom McCasland.

"I will say that the allegations are very troubling. We are part of the investigation of this potential crime, but like any allegation involving your taxpayer dollars and the people of this great country, we have to take every single allegation seriously," said Bush, speaking exclusively with FOX 26.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Houston Mayor orders review of controversial housing deal

For those who don't know, Bush and the Texas General Land Office oversee billions in federal Harvey relief as an agent of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While he has recused himself from an active role in the inquiry, Commissioner Bush says McCasland's claim that the Mayor conducted a "charade of competitive bidding" to the benefit of a long-time business partner is the reason for alarm.

"To hear this from his own housing director who, by the way, we have been at odds with over several aspects of the housing program, for him to speak truth to power, in front of your City Hall and to say the Mayor is behind this has to be taken seriously," said Bush.

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FOX 26 has confirmed that the GLO is nearing completion of an audit of past Harvey funding awarded to the City of Houston- an inquiry triggered by the McCasland allegations.

HUD has ordered those findings submitted to the agency's Office of Inspector General.

The key question, according to a GLO spokesperson- Did a competitive bid process take place which satisfies federal law?

"The Mayor is going to face an investigation from the federal government and from all relevant authorities and time will show basically the truth, that we have to take these allegations seriously and the truth will eventually win," said Bush who is running for Texas Attorney General on a platform which highlights public integrity.

MORE: Did controversial city housing deal violate federal competitive bidding rules?

Mayor Turner's spokesperson Mary Benton offered the following response.

"George P. Bush has time and again chosen to engage in partisan politics over sensible policy. Like the former President, he makes outrageous and untruthful statements for his own political gain.

"The City has done nothing wrong and the former Housing Director said as much in his comments. The administration has the authority to select a housing development regardless of the staff’s recommendations as was thoroughly discussed in a public Housing Committee this week.

"This development would have provided seniors with affordable housing in an area where none had been built with Harvey multi-family funds. The General Land Office has approved every city housing development since taking over the DR-17 funding.

"His remarks are an attempt at distraction from his own record. The bipartisan outrage at denying Houston or Harris County any funding in Hurricane Harvey CDBG-Mitigation funds is an embarrassment to Texans and shows a true lack of leadership. Don’t be distracted by empty rhetoric, look at the record."