Alabama investigators looked into whether the recent deal to publish Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird sequel involved financial fraud, but they've closed the inquiry, a state official said yesterday. Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said his agency sent an investigator to speak with Lee because the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which handles complaints of elder abuse, needed his agency's expertise in financial matters for this case. Borg said Lee seemed aware of what was happening with her book, so his office closed its part of the probe. "We don't make competency determinations. We're not doctors," Borg said. "But unless someone tells us to go back in, our file is closed on it. ... Let's just say that she was able to answer questions we asked to our satisfaction from our point of view."
The surprise news that the 88-year-old author would publish Go Set a Watchman in July has prompted speculation over whether she's capable of giving consent to the publication. A high-ranking state official who wasn't authorized to release the information publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity says the Department of Human Resources began an investigation into Lee's treatment following news that the second novel would be released. And although the Securities Commission has closed its file, the status of that larger investigation by the Department of Human Resources is unclear; a spokesman for the department declined comment. Lee currently lives in an assisted-living facility in her south Alabama hometown of Monroeville, the inspiration for Mockingbird. (Read more Harper Lee stories.)