(1) These rules provide guidance to Department of Revenue employees concerning the ethical standards they are expected to meet or exceed. The rules also inform the public concerning ethics expected of department employees.
(2) In Wadsworth v. DOR , the Montana Supreme Court held that the department's policy prohibiting appraisal employees from also working as private appraisers or as real estate salesman was unconstitutional. The key to the decision was that the department could not show actual conflicts, only potential conflicts. In addition, the court held that such policies should be adopted as administrative rules. In light of this decision and the fact that employees need to have some guidance concerning ethical issues, these rules are adopted.
(3) The guiding principle behind these rules is that the department trusts its employees to respect their public office and act in an ethical manner. These rules provide guidance and examples to assist employees in recognizing potential conflicts of interest and ethical issues.
(4) The corollary principle is that employees must take responsibility for their conduct. An employee who betrays the state's trust will be disciplined, including the possibility of termination of employment.
(5) The key to compliance with ethical requirements is recognition of an ethical issue and complete, full and timely disclosure of possible problems. The purpose of requiring disclosure is to ensure that no harm comes to the employee, the state of Montana, the department or the public from a conflict of interest, appearance of a conflict of interest, or other ethical issue. Disclosure is necessary so steps can be taken by the employee and the department to prevent harm. Disclosure is also required by the Montana Code of Ethics, 2-2-131 , MCA. Preventing harm is, by its nature, something that can occur only if disclosure of conflicts of interest are made in a timely manner.
(6) The courts in Montana and other jurisdictions have stated that employees owe a duty to their employer in return for employment. This includes the duty to perform their responsibilities diligently and faithfully. It also includes the duty to be loyal to their employer as appropriate and within the bounds of the law and ethical standards. Although this duty is incapable of specific definition, these rules attempt to inform employees of what is expected concerning their responsibility to be loyal to the state of Montana.