At the last Republican debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich defended his work for mortgage lender Freddie Mac, saying he was “a private citizen engaged in a business like any other business” when he earned $1.6 million for providing the lender strategic advice.

Gingrich had previously said lawmakers involved with Freddie Mac should go to jail, but at the Iowa debate Tuesday night explained that he was not being hypocritical by taking money from the same firm.

Rival Mitt Romney has called on Gingrich to return the money he earned from the quasi-government agency, which previously prompted Gingrich to say that the former Massachusetts governor should return money earned from his leadership of Bain Capital. Gingrich has said that led to downsizing and layoffs.

At the debate, Gingrich insisted that “he did no lobbying of any kind for any organization,” drawing fire from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who has accused him of influence peddling, regardless of whether Gingrich’s work for Freddie technically qualified as lobbying.

“I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House because he is defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” Bachmann said.

“I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy because they frankly [needed] to go away when the speaker had his hand out And he was taking $1.6 million....they need to be shut down, not built up.”