Schnur, the director of University of Southern California's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, is a veteran GOP strategist who served as communications director for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and for GOP Sen. John McCain's 2000 presidential bid. Over the past 10 years, he has worked for a variety of political communication and reform groups and as a lecturer at USC and UC Berkeley.
"The people of California deserve a political environment that is fair and puts their needs first," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Dan Schnur has spent years teaching and advocating for equality in California politics and I am grateful that he will continue his service to our state in this new role."
Schnur, 46, replaces Republican Ross Johnson, who stepped down in April due to health issues.
Johnson, a 26-year veteran of the state Legislature, is credited with toughening campaign finance disclosure rules and posting more enforcement and campaign finance-related documents on the Web.
Schnur said in an interview that while his top priority will be the "oversight and enforcement of campaign laws through the election," he wants to build on the work started by Johnson, Executive Director Roman Porter and FPPC staff.
"If Roman and his staff have been working on new regulations, I'll be eager to hear what they have in the pipeline," he said.
He lauded Johnson for being aggressive in bringing attention to violators of the state Political Reform Act and pledged to take a similar approach.
"When people step over the line, we're going to make them famous," he said.
Schnur will fill the remainder of Johnson's term, which expires in January 2011, though he is eligible to be reappointed to a full term by the next governor. He plans to take a one-semester leave from USC and said he would recuse himself from any issues that involved past employers or clients, including Wilson, McCain and USC.
The position, which does not require Senate confirmation, pays $132,000.
IMAGE: Unruh Institute of Politics.