Officially his hat is still only dangling in the general vicinity of the POTUS ring, but Newt Gingrich is finding that the public can have a long memory when it wants to, and questions remain about his past activities. Conservatives in particular, with an eye toward Newt’s possible presidential aspirations, continue to have questions about his history with the ethanol lobby.

Newt Gingrich earned more than $300,000 consulting to a major ethanol lobbying group in 2009, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

IRS filings show that Growth Energy, a coalition of ethanol producers, paid Gingrich’s consulting firm $312,500 – one of the group’s largest single expenditures that year. But a Growth Energy spokesman told the Center that Gingrich was not hired again in 2010. (The group’s IRS report for 2010 isn’t available.)

The ghost of Gingrich’s brawl with the Wall Street Journal editorial board is once again being raised, along with his classic pronouncement, “I am not a lobbyist for ethanol.” To put this in more Clintonesque terms, I suppose that depends on what the definition of “am” is.

National Review’s Katrina Trinko also takes Newt to task, but goes on to point out that he’s not the only one who found room on their dance card for the ethanol lobby. Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels have also taken a few steps in that direction. But to be fair, T-Paw has 100% walked back that position, admitting his mistake and indicating that additional study led him to change his position. In fact, during a chat we had with him at CPAC he referred to his ethanol dalliance as one of the “clunkers” in his past which he has owned up to and moved on.

Both US energy policy and the budget bending subsidies which flow in that direction with be huge issues in the 2012 cycle. Many candidates have the odd skeleton in their closet here and there, but this one may prove particularly troublesome for Gingrich if he’s seriously looking at a run for the nomination.