Madigan's office has acknowledged the speaker asked Quinn's administration to hire Ward.

The administration ultimately approved the speaker's request for Ward, who was hired as an assistant deputy director of labor relations in Chicago, a job that pays $70,000 a year.

Clifford also detailed a tense meeting with Latino lawmakers in March 2012, which he says ended when state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, asked if Metra would hire his candidate for an open deputy director position.

Clifford said he refused to take the name.

Arroyo has denied that he recommended people for Metra jobs or pressured Clifford. He told the Tribune that Clifford invented the patronage allegations as an excuse after the agency lost faith in him.

At the same meeting, Clifford said, Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, complained that her husband — who has a security job at Metra — was being mistreated at work by his supervisor.

Clifford said he was taken aback by her comments.

"I indicated to her that it was inappropriate," Clifford told the RTA. "We don't discuss personnel matters in public."

Hernandez did not return calls seeking comment.

Clifford said he later looked into Hernandez's complaint and discovered that the person she accused of mistreating her husband, Charles, wasn't his supervisor at all.

Charles Hernandez was supervised at Metra by Arroyo's daughter, Denise, Clifford said.

Tribune reporters Jeff Coen, John Chase, David Heinzmann, Bob Secter, Rick Pearson and Ray Long contributed.