WASHINGTON (CBS) -- The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is not blowing over. News that tax specialists may have targeted Tea Party political groups has turned into a public relations disaster all the way to the White House.
The Internal Revenue Service has apologized for targeting conservative political groups. But that's not bringing down the heat on the White House.
Even though the IRS is an independent agency, Republican lawmakers have been calling on the president to personally condemn the IRS for flagging party groups applying for tax exempt status. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says, "This is truly outrageous. And it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government."
CBS News obtained information that shows senior IRS officials apparently knew agents were applying additional scrutiny to conservative political groups, a practice that started in 2010. But as late as last year they denied it.
The pressure on the White House has been coming from all directions. It's not just the Republicans who want answers. Democrats are chiming in as well. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says, "Somebody made the decision that they would give extra scrutiny to this particular group. And I think we have to understand why."
Scottie Nell Hughes says she experienced it first hand with her group called TeaParty.net. It applied for tax exempt status and is still waiting. She says, "I can assure you it has cost us time, it has cost us resources, and most importantly it has cost us donation dollars."
Congressional Republicans have now raised the ante. They're working on new legislation that would make it a crime for IRS workers to discriminate for political views.