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Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints Dan Schnur Chairman of California's Fair Political Practices Commission

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and Chairman of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Photo credit Sam Lim.
Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and Chairman of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Photo credit Sam Lim.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, as Chairman of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The commission, a bi-partisan independent body established in 2004 by the Political Reform Act, is the chief political watch dog for the state of California and provides oversight and guidance to California political campaigns and donors.

“The people of California deserve a political environment that is fair and puts their needs first,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “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.”   

Schnur, who is also an assistant professor of the practice of political science at the University of Southern California in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, will take a leave of absence to assume the role through January 2011. The former FPPC Chair, Ross Johnson, announced in April that he would be stepping down due to personal health issues.

“I am truly honored to be appointed chair of the FPPC as California is heading into a general election campaign, and it will be my greatest goal to ensure that the elections are conducted fairly, honestly and with transparency,” Schnur said.

“All of us in USC College are extremely proud that Dan has been appointed by the Governor to this important position for the state of California,” said Howard Gillman, dean of the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. “He is doing an outstanding job as director of our Unruh Institute, and both the institute and the state will benefit from his willingness to serve.”

A veteran of four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns, Schnur has taught at USC since 2004 and was named the director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute in 2008. The institute, devoted to student civic participation, is a leading center of political discussion and debate on the West Coast. Under Schnur’s directorship, institute programming has greatly expanded and local and national student internships have quintupled. 

In 2009, Schnur was instrumental in establishing USC College’s joint venture with the Los Angeles Times, the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll, which is composed of a series of six statewide public opinion polls that began in November 2009. The polling will continue throughout California’s crucial elections for governor and U.S. Senate.

With insight gained from his experience in politics, government and higher education, Schnur hopes to complement the deep government, law and academic expertise of FPPC commissioners Timothy Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies, California State University, Sacramento; Elizabeth Garrett, vice president for academic planning & budget and the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, Political Science, and Policy, Planning, and Development, USC; Lynn Montgomery, past Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante; and Ronald Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Chapman University in Orange.

“When I return to USC in January, I look forward to sharing the experience I’ve gained at the FPPC with our students and others who participate in the Unruh Institute programs,” Schnur said. “It’s important for all voters to know that the political system doesn’t play favorites, but it’s especially important for young people to understand that they have a stake in the outcome of our elections as well. I want to show our students that the process is open, fair and accessible, and that any Californian — regardless of age, access or influence — has an equal right to participate.”

Schnur previously served as a visiting fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies and at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.