(1) In any proceeding under ss. 120.569 and 120.57, no ex parte communication relative to the merits, threat, or offer of reward shall be made to the agency head, after the agency head has received a recommended order, or to the presiding officer by:
(a) An agency head or member of the agency or any other public employee or official engaged in prosecution or advocacy in connection with the matter under consideration or a factually related matter.
(b) A party to the proceeding, the party’s authorized representative or counsel, or any person who, directly or indirectly, would have a substantial interest in the proposed agency action.
Nothing in this subsection shall apply to advisory staff members who do not testify on behalf of the agency in the proceeding or to any rulemaking proceedings under s. 120.54.
(2) A presiding officer, including an agency head or designee, who is involved in the decisional process and who receives an ex parte communication in violation of subsection (1) shall place on the record of the pending matter all written communications received, all written responses to such communications, and a memorandum stating the substance of all oral communications received and all oral responses made, and shall also advise all parties that such matters have been placed on the record. Any party desiring to rebut the ex parte communication shall be allowed to do so, if such party requests the opportunity for rebuttal within 10 days after notice of such communication. The presiding officer may, if necessary to eliminate the effect of an ex parte communication, withdraw from the proceeding, in which case the entity that appointed the presiding officer shall assign a successor.
(3) Any person who makes an ex parte communication prohibited by subsection (1), and any presiding officer, including an agency head or designee, who fails to place in the record any such communication, is in violation of this act and may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $500 or be subjected to other disciplinary action.