(CNN) – President Barack Obama should personally condemn the Internal Revenue Service for putting extra scrutiny on conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday.
The Maine Republican said the disclosure that a government agency would go after groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names would only add to a growing sense of mistrust Americans have in their government. She was one of a number of Republicans who blasted the IRS on Sunday's talk shows.
"This is truly outrageous. And it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government. It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review. And I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out," Collins told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Saturday the president believes the government should be staffed with "the very best public servants with the highest levels of integrity" and that "based on recent media reports, (the president) is concerned that the conduct of a small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have fallen short of that standard."
That doesn't go far enough for Collins, who said "the president needs to make crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable in America."
Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, called for a full investigation of the IRS' practices, something Republicans and Democrats have said is necessary after learning of the conservative targeting.
"I don't care if you're a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine," Rogers said on "Fox News Sunday."
A congressional investigation would probe who knew what and when, Rep. Darrell Issa told CNN Sunday. Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight.
"The fact is if you're doing something and it's wrong, it's illegal, it's the kind of thing that scares the American people to their core, when Americans are being targeted for audits based on their political beliefs, that needs to change," he said.
Collins questioned the IRS assertion that only a small group of its employees were responsible for the targeting of conservative groups, and wondered why a similar screening process wasn't established for groups with "progressive" in their names.
And she pointed to new reports indicating senior IRS officials were aware of the targeting of conservative groups beginning in 2011, saying those officials should have taken disciplinary action against the employees involved.
"You would think that the high level IRS supervisors would have rushed to make this public, fired the employees involved and apologize to the American people and informed Congress. None of that happened in a timely way," she said.