by RILEY SNYDER
From the Steven Brooks debacle to the controversial margins tax proposal, the 2013 Nevada Legislature has confronted a number of issues that delve into complicated legal territory. This lack of clarity means that attorney Sean McDonald’s legislative blog Amicus Nevada is receiving more and more attention by journalists, legislators and other interested parties since the site’s launch in February. I find McDonald’s take on many of legislative issues to be more interesting than usual partisan banter, as he is one of the few online sources I’ve found to actually delve into the issues (one post on the margins tax is more than 4,000 words long). Last week I reached out to McDonald to discuss his blog, the response it has received, and his goals for the future.
Riley Synder (RS): Can you give a little background on yourself and your knowledge about Nevada politics and law?
Sean McDonald (SM): I am a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), [with a degree] in Political Science and of the William S. Boyd School of Law – I am a licensed attorney. I first became directly involved in the political process and the law at the state level in 2009, when I served as session staff on the Assembly Judiciary and Corrections, Parole, and Probation Committees. In 2011, while still in law school, I served as a legal extern with Sam McMullen and his crew at Snell & Wilmer, lobbying the [Nevada] Legislature. Prior to that, my first foray into politics on any level was a successful run for student government at UNR, where I was twice elected to the student senate. I’ve had an interest in politics for nearly as long as I can remember, but it was my service in the Associated Students of UNR and first session at the Legislature that got me hooked.
RS: What prompted you to launch Amicus Nevada?
SM: Given my interests, it seemed only natural to start blogging about them. I think my friends are glad that I have a new outlet for my political musings.
RS: How much of a response have you gotten from people/journalists/other legal experts/lawmakers?
SM: Before the journalists covering politics and the politicos in Carson City picked up on my little blog, there really was no response. But as soon as Elizabeth Crum, Steve Sebelius, and Jon Ralston picked me up and linked to the blog, response, at least in terms of page views, took off like wildfire. I saw that Nevada Progressive, another blog, called me “Nevada’s hottest new legal blogger” – they obviously haven’t seen my mug.
RS: Do you have an ultimate goal with Amicus Nevada? Will you continue to update the blog once the session is finished?
SM: My goal was – and remains – to share my musings and opinions on the law and politics in Nevada. If my writings prove influential, that’s nice, but all I really wanted to do was contribute views that weren’t getting wider exposure or consideration. I’ll update the blog so long as interest remains and there’s something interesting to write about.
RS: Any other comments?
SM: The latest debate among my friends is whether I should spend the money for a permanent domain name. Seems a little early to be talking about the blog’s permanence, but we’ll see where this adventure takes me.
Follow Sean McDonald on Twitter @SWMcDonald86