CHICAGO | Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is blasting Gov. Pat Quinn for nominating Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli to the Chicago Transit Authority Board.
Daley is challenging Quinn in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He spoke Thursday near a downtown Chicago CTA station.
Daley calls Quinn's appointment of Zuccarelli to the $25,000-a-year post "a disgrace."
He says it violates a law that says CTA board members shouldn't hold other government offices or jobs for which they are paid.
Daley says it also reeks of political patronage because Zuccarelli is expected to endorse Quinn for governor when the Cook County Democratic Party's slating committee meets next week.
At a separate event Thursday, Quinn said he disagreed with Daley's assessment that the appointment was political.
"There's nothing in the law that would prevent his appointment to the CTA Board," Quinn said. "The law makes it crystal clear that someone who is a township supervisor is able to serve."
Quinn said Zuccarelli, who heads the largest township in Illinois with 17 municipalities in the south suburbs, is a logical choice for the board.
"The south suburbs have been left behind over and over again, and I know Frank Zuccarelli will be a strong voice for the south suburbs," Quinn said.
Quinn defended Zuccarelli, citing the township supervisor's military and public service.
"I'm not going to let (Zuccarelli) be a punching bag," Quinn said. "He understands everyday people. He understands how important it is that the CTA not just go north and west, but also go south."
Quinn suggested that Daley address the cronyism his brother and father, both former Chicago mayors, were involved in.
"The people who are complaining about Frank Zuccarelli, they should look at their own family," Quinn said.
He noted Daley's brother, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, appointed his former campaign manager to the CTA Board.
Zuccarelli spoke about the appointment after a south suburban summit at Blueberry Field restaurant in South Holland.
He said he told the governor that he was looking for another position because he was leaving the Cook County employee appeals court.
"(Quinn) thought I would be a good advocate to try to bring more public transportation to the southern suburbs," Zuccarelli said. "Since I was 15 years old, I've had more than one position. I think my position with the township adds some not only credibility, but my ability to understand the needs of the transportation requirements for people that live out here."
"I was not aware of what the law said or what the law did when the governor asked me about some of my interests, I told him I was concerned about transportation in the south suburbs," Zuccarelli said. "I believe they thoroughly vetted my position."
When asked if he'd consider taking the appointment without the $25,000 salary, Zuccarelli said no.
"At this point, I'm taking money," Zuccarelli said. "I've got about four or five more years left, and I'm looking to retire, and I don't have anything in savings. So, at this point I'm not interested in really thinking about giving back the salary."
Zuccarelli said he doesn't expect to make an official endorsement for governor until October, but said he does support Quinn.
"I support Pat Quinn for re-election, no matter what happens with my appointment," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.