Chicago Mayor Grilled in Corruption Probe

Mayor Richard Daley (search) answered questions Friday from representatives of the U.S. attorney about the city's hiring and promotion policies and certain city programs, the mayor's press office said.

Daley wouldn't say what question were asked or what he responded, but he said at a news conference that he doesn't believe he is a target of an investigation.

Federal authorities have spent more than 18 months investigating bribes given in return for work in a city program that outsources trucking jobs to contractors. Earlier this year, that probe expanded to alleged fraud in the city's hiring practices — which strikes deeper into City Hall's political heart.

The voluntary meeting with Daley was requested by federal authorities several weeks ago and conducted in the mayor's office Friday morning, said his spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Heard (search). He was joined by an attorney for the city and a personal attorney, she said.

It was unclear whether Daley was questioned under oath. Heard referred the question to Daley's attorneys, who did not return calls.

The U.S. attorney's office would not comment on Daley's statements.

The mayor has not been accused of wrongdoing.

At the City Hall news conference, Daley pledged continued cooperation with federal authorities, saying "this probe has caused me to ask many questions of my own and evaluate how and where the system broke down. On my orders, my staff is moving aggressively to address those issues."

Daley said he was embarrassed by the scandals, and he became emotional when asked if being Chicago's mayor was worth the pressure.

"It is worth it. I love being mayor," he said. "I think I have the greatest job that anyone can have."

His father was mayor for 21 years and died in office in 1976. Daley, mayor since 1989, hasn't said if he'll run again in 2007.

More than 20 people have pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation of the scandal-plagued Hired Truck Program. Federal authorities say payoffs in the trucking program were widespread and thousands of dollars worth of city property was stolen.

Federal prosecutors are also pushing ahead with their investigation of possible fraud in hiring. City officials allegedly have faked scores to help applicants get city jobs after they earned political clout by working in get-out-the-vote organizations.

Two city officials were charged last month with allegedly rigging the city's hiring system. A court order bars City Hall from considering politics when filling most city jobs.