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Official quits stamp board, accuses Postal Service of ‘prostituting’ program after Harry Potter decision

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An employee dressed up as a character from the Harry Potter series grabs a copy of the seventh and final Harry Potter book. (Reuters)

Harry Potter was perhaps the final straw.

A former postmaster general reportedly has resigned from the U.S. Postal Service committee that decides what images go on stamps, complaining that the agency is “prostituting” its stamp program by honoring pop culture subjects.

Among the most controversial decisions was one last fall to put Harry Potter – a fictional, British character – on American stamps.

The Washington Post reports that Benjamin F. Bailar -- a former postmaster general who sat on the Citizens’ Advisory Stamp Committee -- sent a letter of resignation to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe detailing his concerns with the direction of the program.

“The stamp program should celebrate the things that are great about the United States and serve as a medium to communicate those things to a world-wide audience,” he reportedly wrote in the letter sent last month.

“To prostitute that goal in the pursuit of possibly illusory profits does not make sense to me.”

His concern, and that of others on the committee, is that the cash-strapped Postal Service is using pop-culture icons to make money.

The young wizard Potter is just one example.

“While they may support a drive to ‘sell the product’ with abundance of pretty and popular culture subjects, the result is a program that lacks gravitas,” Bailar reportedly wrote.

The chairman of the committee, though, told the Post: “The Postal Service is asking us to do more in the way of pop culture. We’re trying to get a lot of young people interested in stamps.”