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Dan Schnur tapped to head Fair Political Practices Commission

June 1, 2010 | 11:00 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has selected Dan Schnur, the head of the Jesse Unruh Institute  of Politics at the University of Southern California and former adviser to John McCain and Pete Wilson, to head the state's campaign watchdog agency.

“The people of California deserve a political environment that is fair and puts their needs first,” said  Schwarzenegger in a statement Tuesday. “Dan Schnur has spent years teaching and advocating for equality and transparency in California politics and I am grateful that he will continue his service to our state in this new role.”   

As chairman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, Schnur will oversee the state agency charged with enforcing state campaign finance and campaign disclosure laws. Schnur takes over for former Sen. Ross Johnson, who resigned his post due to health reasons earlier this year.

Schnur will serve out the rest of Johnson's term, which expires in January, and plans to return to USC for the spring semester.

Schnur praised Johnson, who was widely seen as an aggressive chairman who was not afraid to levy large fines and knock candidates and campaigns for playing fast and loose with election rules.

"I've been a huge fan of the work that [executive director] Roman Porter and his entire team have done at the commission over the years, but I was particularly impressed by the tone and direction Ross Johnson set during his time as chairman," he said.

Schnur pointed to Johnson and former Chairwoman Karen Getman, who served under Gray Davis, as examples of past commission  leaders who transcended their partisan backgrounds to aggressively enforce campaign laws at the commission. "Both did an excellent job of setting aside their personal political leanings" while leading the commission, he said.

Schnur will take leave from his post at USC while on the commission. While at USC, Schnur also was a lead analyst on the Los Angeles Times/USC Poll.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento