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PDFWAC 162-04-050

Ethics and conflicts of interest.

(1) Purpose. This section is intended to guide the commission's staff and commissioners on official ethics, and to carry out the policies and purposes of chapter 42.18 RCW, the Executive Conflict of Interest Act, as provided in RCW 42.18.250.
(2) General rule. It is the duty of all employees of the commission and of all commissioners to maintain the highest standard of ethics in all official actions, and specifically to comply strictly with the requirements of the Executive Conflict of Interest Act, chapter 42.18 RCW.
(3) Specific matters. The following applications of the rule are for guidance on common problems and are to serve as examples for extension by analogy; they are not a complete catalog of applications of the general rule:
(a) Dealing with parties. No commission employee who has duties with respect to a complaint pending before the commission shall deal in any way with the complainant or respondent, on a business or personal basis, except for routine transactions done on the same basis as other members of the public transact business with the party. An employee may continue to deal privately with a public utility or continue to shop at a party's store, if the employee deals with appropriate customer service representatives or salespersons and does not identify his or her official position or mix official business into the transaction. In circumstances unlike these, employees shall either not deal with parties or shall report the matter to the employee's supervisor, who shall relieve the employee of responsibility for the case. Commissioners who have nonroutine dealings with parties shall abstain from voting or other action on the matter.
(b) Accepting things of value. No commission employee or commissioner shall accept anything of economic value from a party to a complaint before the commission, or from any other person who is dealing with the commission, except under circumstances permitted in RCW 42.18.190. Permitting another person to pay for an employee's lunch is within the prohibition of this paragraph, but accepting a cup of coffee under normal office hospitality is not. If the coffee is ordered in a restaurant the prohibition of this section applies.
(c) Honoraria for speaking. If the speaking engagement is within the course of a person's official duties, acceptance of an honorarium or other compensation is prohibited. RCW 42.18.190. Payment of travel expenses and living expenses while traveling, or reimbursement of the commission for these expenses, is not prohibited, if the trip and payment arrangement have been approved by the employee's supervisor. It is not necessary for a person who is on the program to pay for a meal that is served, or for the price of admission to the seminar, where the custom is to not charge persons on the program for the meal at which they are speaking, or for admission to the seminar. The prohibitions of this subparagraph do not apply to commissioners, because speaking outside of commission meetings is not a duty of commissioners.
(d) Job offers. No employee of the commission shall make or continue an application or request for employment with a party to a case or other matter before the commission while the employee has official duties with respect to that case or matter. If any employee is assigned a case or matter while he or she has an application pending for employment with a party to the case or matter, the employee shall either withdraw the application or report the facts to his or her supervisor. The executive director shall determine whether to relieve the employee from further responsibility for the case or matter. If any employee receives and considers a job offer from a party to a case or other matter pending before the commission with which the employee has official responsibilities, the employee shall report the facts to his or her supervisor and the supervisor shall relieve the employee from any further responsibility for the case or matter.
(4) Indirect transactions. These rules and the Executive Conflict of Interest Act apply to conflicts of interest and ethical problems whether they come directly or indirectly through members of a person's family, through corporations of which the employee is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee, or through other means.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.60.120(3). WSR 89-23-019, § 162-04-050, filed 11/7/89, effective 12/8/89. Statutory Authority: RCW 42.18.250, 49.60.120, and chapter 49.60 RCW. WSR 78-02-065 (Order 39), § 162-04-050, filed 1/23/78; Order 32, § 162-04-050, filed 3/21/77. Formerly WAC 162-08-050.]
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