(1) No member of the commission may participate in or initiate any ex parte communication as defined in (2) on the merits of a matter with any party. A member of the commission may engage in a communication concerning administrative or procedural matters where they are necessary under the circumstances and do not adversely affect the substantial rights of a party.
(2) "Ex parte communication" means the act of a party, any person having an interest in the outcome of a contested case, or any other person not authorized by law, communicating with a member of the commission regarding the merits of any contested case, outside the context of a commission hearing or other publicly noticed meeting. Communications which do not constitute discussions or information regarding an issue of fact or law in a contested case, such as discussions of enlargements of time, scheduling, administrative matters, and/or questions of procedure, do not constitute ex parte communications.
(3) The commission, or a member of the commission, may consult with the department regarding any matter coming before the commission.