WEF did not appoint McCarthy as House speaker
CLAIM: A page on the World Economic Forum’s website is evidence that the organization has “appointed” Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker of the House.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. House members elect the speaker. The page on the WEF website identifies McCarthy as “Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives,” a position he held from 2013 to 2019 and which is different from the speaker role. Such pages are created for people who have attended a WEF event or written a blog published on the WEF website, a spokesperson for the organization told The Associated Press.
THE FACTS: While the House was embroiled in its third day of voting Thursday to elect a new speaker, some social media users were spreading false claims alleging that the WEF had already “appointed” McCarthy to the position.
“It seems the World Economic Forum has appointed McCarthy as speaker already…no need for pesky things like winning elections!” one tweet stated, along with a link to McCarthy’s page on the WEF website. As of Thursday, it had received more than 3,000 likes and more than 1,000 shares.
Other widespread posts claimed more broadly that the WEF had picked McCarthy to be the “leader” of the House or “endorsed” him.
“The unelected World Economic Forum, a trade organization representing the interests of the thousand largest companies in the world, has already chosen and announced the next leader of the US House of Representatives,” another tweet linking to McCarthy’s page stated. It had received nearly 55,000 likes and more than 26,000 shares as of Thursday.
But the WEF — a Geneva-based think tank and event organizer that is best known for hosting an annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland — plays no role in selecting the speaker of the House, and the page is simply an artifact from McCarthy’s past involvement with the organization.
Yann Zopf, a WEF spokesperson, told the AP that the organization has not been “involved in any way” in choosing the next House speaker.
“I can confirm that, of course, the World Economic Forum has not appointed Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,” he wrote in an email.
Zopf explained that pages on the WEF website like the one featuring McCarthy are created for any person who has ever attended a WEF event or has written a blog posted on the site.
The earliest version of McCarthy’s page accessible through internet archives is from 2016, the same year McCarthy attended WEF’s annual meeting in Davos. At the time, McCarthy was indeed the House majority leader.
Other prominent political figures from both sides of the aisle also have pages on the WEF’s website that are similar to McCarthy’s, including former President Donald Trump and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The speaker is elected by House members once a candidate receives a majority of the votes from members who are present and voting. Historically, that has meant 218 out of 435 members, but the overall tally needed to reach a majority can be lower if members vote “present” instead of naming a candidate. Members are not required to vote for candidates of their own party and although it is tradition for candidates to be members of the House, they do not have to be.
Speaker of the House and majority leader are two different roles. The former is the leader of the House and has responsibilities such as presiding over daily sessions and appointing committee chairs, while the latter is charged with duties such as taking the lead during floor debates and assisting the speaker with policy formation. Rep. Steve Scalise has been tapped as the House majority leader for the incoming Congress.
As of Thursday evening, McCarthy had failed to reach a majority of votes in the race for speaker after 10 rounds of voting. This is the first time since 1923 that a candidate has not received a majority on the first vote. The longest fight to elect a speaker occurred in the run-up to the Civil War. It started in 1855 and lasted two months.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.