John Traier was in his office earlier this week when he got a call from Barbara Buono, the Democratic state senator running against Republican Gov. Christie. She thanked him for his $250 donation and asked if he'd be able to cut another check for $250.
But Traier never gave $250 to Buono -- and he wasn't about to now.
That's because he's the Republican chairman of Passaic County -- a bona fide Christie supporter who has already given $1,000 to the governor's re-election campaign.
Traier didn't tell her that. He let her talk. She even followed up with an email.
"My secretary tells me that Barbara Buono is on the phone," Traier told me today, recounting a story that is circulating in GOP circles. "I figured she got something wrong or someone is playing a game on me."
In the end, "I was a little bemused by it," Traier said.
A Buono spokesman, David Turner, explained what happened this way: "Mr. Traier's firm, Hammond, Traier, and Burns, LLC, generously donated $250 during the primary. Sen. Buono wanted to check if he had seen the light and would be interested in making an additional contribution to her campaign."
Traier says that LLC is actually his old firm, which he left earlier this year -- and even then, impossible. The partner still with the firm, he said, is "even more of a crazy Republican than I am."
The contribution can't be verified because campaigns don't have to report donations under $300.
On that note, Traier wonders why a candidate in a campaign expected to cost millions was calling to ask for $250. "This is a tough race, we all know that, but it was surprising to me that she was working on a list in that range," he said.