|(a) Prohibited ex parte communications.
(1) Government Code, §2001.061(a) states, "Unless
required for the disposition of an ex parte matter authorized by law,
a member or employee of a state agency assigned to render a decision
or to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in a contested
case may not directly or indirectly communicate in connection with
an issue of fact or law with a state agency, person, party, or a representative
of those entities, except on notice and opportunity for each party
(2) The prohibition on ex parte communications includes
oral and written communications.
(3) The prohibition on ex parte communications applies
for the duration of a contested case. A contested case generally begins
with a request for redetermination of a deficiency or jeopardy determination,
or a request for hearing following denial of a request for refund.
A contested case generally ends when a decision is final.
(4) The prohibition on ex parte communications includes
communications with the following persons who participate in rendering
(A) the comptroller of public accounts;
(B) the deputy comptroller;
(C) staff of the Office of Special Counsel for Tax
(D) any ALJ assigned to the contested case.
(b) Permitted ex parte communications. Government Code,
§2001.061(c) allows a decision-maker to communicate ex parte
with an agency employee who has not participated in a hearing in the
case for the purpose of using the special skills or knowledge of the
agency and its staff in evaluating evidence. For example, the deputy
comptroller may communicate with an employee of the Tax Policy Division
who has not participated in the hearing.
(c) The recipient of a prohibited ex parte communication
may notify the other parties of the content of the communication and
provide an opportunity for the other parties to respond. For purposes
of this subsection, a "recipient" is one or more of the individuals
identified in subsection (a)(4) of this section.