(1) At any time that petitions, complaints, exceptions, election challenges, or other contested case matters have been set for hearing before the hearing officer or the board, ex parte communications are prohibited.
(2) If an ex parte communication occurs, the board, board member, board agent, or hearing officer shall notify all other parties of the communication in writing. The board member, board agent, or hearing officer shall expressly include a written statement of such communication, notification to other parties, and responses received in the record of the case.
(3) The mere noting of such ex parte communications in the record will not be considered evidence of the facts in dispute or merits of the case unless otherwise agreed by all parties to the case. The board and its agents shall rely only on the admissible evidence of record in determining the merits of any disputed issue in a case.
(4) This rule shall not apply to matters presented or obtained during preliminary investigation of the petition, complaint, exceptions, or challenge, made by board agents prior to the referral to a hearing officer or the board or service of the notice of hearing in a case, and shall not apply to requests for subpoenas.
(5) This rule shall not apply to purely procedural questions for the board agent or department staff such as discussions of extensions of time, scheduling, administrative matters, and/or questions of procedure.