WATCH: Candace Owens Criticizes Democrats’ Sudden Concerns About White Nationalism and Hate Crimes as ‘2020 Election Strategy’ at House Hearing

Controversial conservative Candace Owens said Tuesday during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that Democrats’ concerns about white nationalism are actually meant to send a message that “brown people need to be scared” ahead of the upcoming presidential election. 

“Let me be clear, the hearing today is not about white nationalism or hate crimes, it’s about fear-mongering, power and control,” Owens said in her opening remarks at the hearing titled, “Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism.”

She said the hearing was a “preview of a Democrat 2020 election strategy.”

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray called white supremacist violence “a persistent, pervasive threat” during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

In November, the FBI released a report that showed a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, although the bureau pointed out the number of law enforcement agencies reporting the data had also increased.

There were 1,020 known hate groups in the country in 2018, the fourth straight year of growth, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism in the U.S. Hate crimes, meanwhile, rose 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017, the organization said, citing FBI figures.

Owens said Democrats had “simply changed the data set points by widening the definition of hate crimes.”

“What I mean to say, is they are manipulating statistics,” she said.

Owens is the communications director for Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that aims to organize college students. She has pushed for more African-Americans to vote Republican, arguing Democratic policies have hindered, rather than helped, their community. She was invited to testify at the hearing by Judiciary Committee Republicans.

In her opening statement, Owens said many journalists had appeared confused about why she was speaking at the hearing. She said she was there because she had been the victim of a hate crime when she was in high school.

She said few people knew that about her because the news media and journalists “on the left are not interested in telling the truth about me because I don’t fit the stereotype of what they like to see in black people.”

Owens’ grandfather, 75, sat behind her at the hearing. She said he was a sharecropper who “grew up in an America where words like racism and white nationalism held real meaning under the Democrat party’s Jim Crow laws.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, William Cummings