UPDATED 01/19/11 5:53 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayoral hopeful Gery Chico on Tuesday blasted rival Rahm Emanuel for his ties to mortgage giant Freddie Mac and the national mortgage crisis, and Emanuel’s “cozy relationship” with former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Emanuel to the Freddie Mac board.

Clinton was in Chicago on Tuesday for an Emanuel campaign rally. He appointed Emanuel to the board of Freddie Mac in 2000.

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Emanuel served on the board when Freddie Mac misstated its earnings by $5 billion for 2000 to 2002. Top executives were forced out when the problem was uncovered in 2003.

Chico said Emanuel had a chance to blow the whistle on wrongdoing at Freddie Mac, but looked the other way.

In a news release Tuesday, Chico said Emanuel should take responsibility for what he knew about the problems at Freddie Mac.

“When Rahm Emanuel had the chance to blow the whistle on corrupt activity taking place on the Freddie Mac board, he sat on his hands, looked the other way and took the cash,” Chico said. “It was a character test and Rahm Emanuel failed.”

Chico cited a Chicago Tribune report that Emanuel was paid $400,000 as a board member at Freddie Mac and was informed by board executives of a scheme to mislead shareholders about profits.

Mayoral candidate Miguel Del Valle also took Emanuel to task for his service at Freddie Mac.

“The voters deserve to know exactly what you knew and when you knew it,” Del Valle said.

An Emanuel spokesman said the claims against the candidate aren’t credible.

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