Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) "Code of ethics" means any accepted professional standards of conduct, requirements or prohibitions applicable to state public employees that the Montana legislature has adopted. The code of ethics is currently codified in Title 2, chapter 2, MCA as well as other sections of law including 16-1-304 , MCA.
(2) "Conflict of interest" means any situation where an employee's private pecuniary or political interests as defined in (8) below conflict with the interests of the department.
(3) "Disclosure" means written documentation by an employee to the employee's supervisor or the ethics review panel and the secretary of state ( 2-2-131 , MCA) of any matters in which the employee knows or should reasonably know is a conflict of interest, will give the impression of a conflict of interest, or presents any other ethical issue. A written disclosure includes electronic mail as well as hard copy.
(4) "Employee" means all entities and individuals in the employ of or under contract to the department of revenue. The term specifically includes contractors, full-time and part-time employees and appointees.
(5) "Ethical issue" means a set of facts that raise or may reasonably raise questions about whether a violation of these rules or the code of ethics will occur.
(6) "Ethical misconduct" includes but is not limited to:
(a) failure to disclose a conflict of interest, appearance of conflict of interest or other ethical issue as required by these rules or the code of ethics;
(b) violation of these rules or the code of ethics; and
(c) violation of a professional code of ethics or conduct or similar provision by an employee engaged in the profession subject to the code or similar provision.
(7) "Ethics review panel" as used in these rules refers to the panel described in ARM 42.2.806 of these rules.
(8) "Political interests" as used in these rules mean those interests that go beyond the employee's private political beliefs. Private political beliefs are not of concern to the department. As used here, the term is restricted to those situations where an employee is publicly advocating a political position as part of an organized effort. This might include being an officer or other leader of a political or public interest organization which is advocating a particular political viewpoint when such public advocacy creates a conflict of interest or will give the impression of a conflict of interest or other ethical issue.