The short answer? The highest-ranking official in the Cincinnati office where, the IRS would have us believe, a few rogue employees initiated a scheme to target conservatives.
A biography of Thomas from the Cincinnati bar describes her as follows:
Cindy M. Thomas has worked for the IRS for 35 years. She is the program manager for Exempt Organizations Determinations. During the last 29 years, she has worked for the Employee Plans/Exempt Organizations Division, now Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division, in the Cincinnati office specializing in the Exempt Organizations function. While working for the Exempt Organization function, Cindy has held a variety of positions related to determination applications including revenue agent, quality reviewer, first-line manager, staff assistant/training coordinator, processing section manager, program analyst, area manager, and for the last eight and half years, Exempt Organizations program manager.
Based on some fine reporting from Ben Swann at Fox 19 (the Fox affiliate in Cincinnati), we have learned the following:
When an application for tax exempt status comes into the IRS, agents have 270 days to work through that application. If the application is not processed within those 270 days it automatically triggers flags in the system. When that happens, individual agents are required to input a status update on that individual case once a month, every month until the case is resolved.
Keep in mind, at least 300 groups were targeted out of Cincinnati alone. Those applications spent anywhere from 18 months to nearly 3 years in the system and some still don't have their non-profit status. 300 groups multiplied by at least 18 months for each group, means thousands of red flags would have been generated in the system.
So who in the chain of command would have received all these flags? The answer, according to the IRS directory, one woman in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, the Program Manager of the Tax Exempt Division. Because all six of our IRS workers have different individual and territory managers, Cindy Thomas is one manager they all have common.
Oh and, Swann adds, Cindy Thomas is the person who just happened to be the person who signed off on the (improper) release of confidential IRS documents to Pro Publica.
Cindy Thomas has not been called before Congress . . . yet. But if she is, let's hope her appearance is handled better than Lois Lerner's was today.